Marauders from abroad: The best foreign players to have played the ISL
We look at the top 10 foreign players to have played the league since its inception.
A Chennaiyin FC fan favourite, Stiven Mendoza had a highly fruitful 2015-16 season for the side. He ended up with the most goals, and was adjudged the most valuable player.
From Spain to Colombia, players from across several nations have plied their trade in the Indian Super League (ISL), the country’s cash-rich premier division. Some have helped their sides win trophies while others have bagged individual honours, making a name for themselves in the brief history of the tournament.
Here, we take a look at the top 10 foreigners - in no particular order - to have played in the ISL since its inception.
Ferran Corominas (Spain)
Ferran Corominas is ISL’s all-time leading scorer with 48 goals in 57 matches. A two-time (2017-18, 2018-19) winner of the Golden Boot Award, Coro has undoubtedly been one of the best and most consistent strikers in the last three editions of the ISL.
ALSO READ | Five best foreigners to grace Indian football
In the 2018-19 season, he was part of FC Goa’s squad which reached the ISL final, and also won the Super Cup in the same year. In the recent season of ISL, he made history with the team as Goa became the first Indian club to qualify for the AFC Champions League group stage.
Elano Blumer (Brazil)
The first-ever recipient of the Golden Boot honour, Elano Blumer was the top-scorer with eight goals in the 2014 season. A marquee player for Chennaiyin FC, he spent two seasons at the club - 2014 and 2015.
The Brazilian World Cupper helped Chennaiyin win the cup in his second season as he registered four goals and four assists.
Stiven Mendoza (Colombia)
Yet another Chennaiyin FC fan favourite, Stiven Mendoza was a standout performer for the side. Mendoza was the top-scorer with 13 goals in 2015; he also had three assists to his name. Adjudged the MVP in that year, he scored the winning goal in the final against Goa, which handed Chennaiyin its first-ever trophy.
ALSO READ |
Iain Hume (Canada)
Iain Hume played for three sides - ATK, Kerala Blasters, and FC Pune City - during his five seasons in the league. A prolific finisher, he won the cup with ATK in 2015-2016 and was named the best player of the season, too.
Hume scored 28 goals in 69 ISL games, which keeps him fourth in the list of all-time top-scorers, behind Coro, India’s best forward Sunil Chhetri, and Marcelinho.
Ahmed Jahouh (Morocco)
A defensive midfielder, Ahmed Jahouh was a significant presence in Goa’s attacking mid-berth. He leads the chart for the most number of passes (4374) and tackles (413) in ISL’s history although his contribution goes far beyond such quantifying units. He is known for his ability to find space and provide crucial thorough balls, in addition to having a strong aerial presence, which makes him one of the best midfielders of the league.
Tiri has been a long-serving player of the ISL, having participated in five seasons. He played two seasons (2015, 2016) at ATK, winning the league with the Kolkata club in his second year. Later, he plied his trade at Jamshedpur from 2017 to 2020, establishing himself as a reliable inclusion in the backline.
A central defender, Tiri has played over 70 matches in the league and boasts a passing accuracy of nearly 75 percent across all seasons.
ALSO READ | The best goalkeepers India has produced
Bartholomew Ogbeche (Nigeria)
A goal-machine, Bartholomew Ogbeche has stunned viewers since his debut season. Playing for North East United in 2018-19 edition, he scored 12 goals in his first season, and bettered the tally next year, adding 15 more to his tally.
Ogbeche, who played for Kerala Blasters in the recent chapter of ISL, was in the race for Golden Boot alongside Roy Krishna and Nerijus Valskis. With a total of 27 goals and three assists, Ogbeche could easily please any manager with his attacking prowess.
With 28 goals in 69 games, Iain Hume is fourth in the list of all-time top-scorers. - H. VIBHU
Although Marcelinho struggled in his recent season at Hyderabad FC, he has been a popular name in the league. He holds the record for the most number of assists (18) and is also third on the list of all-time top scorers with 31 strikes - all in 63 games.
ALSO READ | The greatest Indian coaches in football
Comfortable on the wings and as a striker, the highlight of Marcelinho’s ISL career remains his spell at Delhi Dynamos in 2016 when he won the Golden Boot for his 10 goals in 15 matches.
Hugo Boumous (France-Morocco)
Since his arrival at Goa in the 2017-18 season, Hugo Boumous has emerged as an all-round midfielder with his 16 goals and 17 assists in the three seasons he has played so far.
Boumous dances with the ball in the centre of the park and is equally productive in setting up his forwards with neat passes. An exciting player to watch, Boumous, in the latest season of the ISL, outclassed Corominas to arguably be the team’s best player, and was also named the MVP of the tournament despite Goa losing in the playoffs.
ALSO READ | India submits bid to host 2027 AFC Asian Cup
Borja Fernandez (Spain)
Spending three seasons at ATK, Borja Fernandez was one of the most important members of the squad which won the league in 2014. Although primarily a defensive midfielder, Borja also contributed offensively in that league-winning campaign with a goal and an assist, in addition to holding the record for most tackles (63) in the same season.
In 2016, he won the ISL for the second time with ATK, thereby making a name for himself as a leader in the midfield.