10 best Indian football players of all time
Football has always taken a backseat in India in front of cricket, thanks to the immense popularity of the latter which is fueled by the success the Indian cricket team has had on the international scene. But football in India is slowly coming into the conscience of an average sports fan after a spell in the wilderness, with the new Indian Super League and the success of I-League clubs like Bengaluru FC in Asian tournaments.
It was not always like this. Indian football had a golden period in the 50s and early 60s when the national team was often considered one of the best teams in Asia. Not to mention the commendable achievement of the team to qualify for the 1950 FIFA World Cup.
Unfortunately, India could not participate in the tournament with the issue of playing barefoot one of the numerous reasons for it. Under the tutelage of the legendary Syed Abdul Rahim, India produced many top-class footballers in that period before the decline in the 70s.
Though India had a thriving domestic league with clubs that boasted passionate following, the truth was that the hotbeds of Indian football were largely limited to Bengal, Kerala and Goa. But the ‘90s and 2000s saw the emergence of several quality footballers who would help the country earn greater recognition and respect in Asia under Stephen Constantine and Bob Houghton.
Let’s take a look at ten of the best footballers to have represented India:-
#10 Climax Lawrence
Climax Lawrence has been an exemplary servant for the Indian national team for a decade. The Goan born midfielder is one of the finest to play for India. In a wide-ranging career, Climax has played for clubs like Salgoacar, East Bengal and Dempo among others.
Though a fierce midfielder on the field, Climax was a humble soul off it. Never one to grumble about his coaches' decision or being on the bench, he was an integral part of the Indian national team in the 2000s.
He made his international debut in 2002 under Stephen Constantine (during his first stint as Indian coach). The finest moment of his career came in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup final, where he scored a 91st-minute winner against Afghanistan.
Climax has 74 international caps to his name, which is bettered only by Bhutia, Vijayan and Chhetri. That speaks volumes on how much a reliable footballer Climax was to India. He retired from International duty in 2012.