Over the years, Spanish players have made a significant impact in the Indian Super League (ISL). In fact, compared to other foreign nationalities, there are a higher number of Spanish players in the tournament. So far, there have been 84 footballers from Spain who have played in India's premier footballing tournament.
In the context of the 2020/21 season, 21 Spanish players are filling the overseas quota across several clubs. In addition to this, seven head coaches/ managers in the league are Spanish. Therefore, the influence of Spanish football in the league cannot be denied.
We look at five Spanish players who are expected to come good for their teams in the 2020-21 ISL season.
1) Tiri (ATK Mohun Bagan)
When it comes to overseas experience in the ISL, Tiri sits right at top of the tree, having featured in all six seasons of the tournament. The 29-year-old arrived in India following a relatively successful stint with Atletico Madrid B in the Segunda Division and was contracted by ATK.
Over the years, Tiri has played two seasons for ATK and three seasons for Jamshedpur FC and now finds himself back in familiar territory with ATK Mohun Bagan. Needless to say, coach Antonion Lopez Habas will be expecting a lot from the 29-year-old central-defender in the upcoming season.
2) Dimas Delgado (Bengaluru FC)
Dimas Delgado is perhaps one of the few overseas players who has played in almost every club competition in Indian football barring the I-League. Having joined Bengaluru FC ahead of their inaugural ISL campaign in 2017, the 37-year-old has been a mainstay in the Blues' starting XI.
Delgado was also instrumental in helping Bengaluru FC secure the ISL title in the 2018-19 season. In addition to this, he has also carved out a reputation for himself as being a set-piece specialist for the club in recent times.
Delgado will be expected to partner Suresh Singh Wangjam and Erik Paartalu in the upcoming season as Carles Cuadrat looks to secure the club's second ISL title.
3) Aridane Santana (Hyderabad FC)
While the ISL has seen several overseas players who have consistently scored goals, Aridane Santana is perhaps the most prolific of the lot. Having initially signed on loan from Cultural Leonesa, Santana managed 9 goals from just 14 appearances for Odisha FC last season.
This time around, the 33-year-old has signed with Hyderabad FC and their big-name coach Manuel Roca. With the Hyderabad-based club having a terrible outing in their first season in the ISL, Santana will be expected to find the back of the net consistently as Manuel Roca aims to overturn the fortunes of his team in the upcoming season.
4) Igor Angulo (FC Goa)
The conclusion of the previous ISL season saw an outpour of emotion following the axing of top-goalscorer Ferran 'Coro' Corominas from the FC Goa squad for the 2020/21 season. However, with Coro returning to Spain, Juan Ferrando added fellow Spanish striker Igor Angulo to his squad.
While Angulo may very different from Coro in more ways than one, the 36-year-old comes into the league with somewhat of a fair wind behind him.
Having signed with Polish club Górnik Zabrze in 2016, Angulo was an extremely important part of the squad, having made 142 appearances and scoring 84 goals in 4 seasons at the club. Needless to say, the Spaniard will be expected to perform for FC Goa this season.
5) Vicente Gomez (Kerala Blasters)
Among the overseas players contracted to the ISL clubs at the moment, Vicente Gomez is perhaps the player with the most experience, having played against top-flight oppositions in Spain.
The 32-year-old spent almost a decade with Spanish club Las Palmas, with three of those seasons coming in the La Liga, where Gomez regularly held a spot in the starting XI.
Generally deployed as a defensive midfielder, Gomez can also play in central defence and has proved himself in that position on several occasions.
With the likes of Bakary Kone, Costa Nhamoinesu, and Gary Hooper in the side, the 32-year-old Spaniard finds himself in a rather star-studded Kerala Blasters lineup ahead of the 2020-21 season.Published 22 Oct 2020, 18:35 IST