ISL: 5 players with the most international caps in Kerala Blasters history
- Here are the 5 players with the most international appearances in the history of the Kerala Blasters.
- This list features 1 player each from India, Spain, England, Bulgaria and Northern Ireland.
In a very short span of time, the Kerala Blasters have managed to attract attention from international football platforms. While their success on the field has been limited to two ISL finals in six seasons, the club's fans are arguably one of the best in India, and recently made their presence felt in international fan polls on social media.
The endless support has encouraged the management to bring on board some of the biggest players around the world, paying hefty wage bills in the process. At the same time, the club has nurtured young guns for the future, while also signing experienced campaigners who have been to premier competitions around the world to guide the youth.
However, the performances of these big signings have been more or less below standards, and most of them failed to achieve what they set out to do with the Blasters.
In this article, we look at the five players who have played the most international matches in Kerala Blasters history.
#5 David James - 53 caps
Some may have expected the Blasters' first-ever manager to be higher up on this list. David James played 53 matches for the England senior national team and kept 21 clean sheets, conceding 46 goals in the process.
He made his debut in 1997 at the age of 26 in an international friendly against Mexico. James was part of England's three FIFA World Cup squads between 2002 and 2010, and played three games in the 2010 edition of the tournament.
David James first came to the Blasters as a player-manager in 2014 and later returned for a second spell as a manager in January 2017. He was sacked the next season after a string of poor results.
#4 Carlos Marchena - 69 caps
Though Carlos Marchena doesn't have great memories of his time at the Kerala Blasters, he used to be a respected figure when donning the Spain national colours. The centre-back played a total of 69 matches for the national team and scored 2 goals, including a late equaliser in a World Cup Qualifying fixture.
Marchena got his first international cap in 2002 at the age of 23, partnering Barcelona legend Carles Puyol in defence. He then became a regular presence on the Spain team-sheet and travelled to the World Cups of 2006 and 2010.
In 2006, he played only one match against Saudi Arabia. In the next edition, he made three appearances off the bench, including the semi-final, and finally got his hands on the title when his team pipped the Netherlands in the final.
Carlos Marchena's stint with Kerala Blasters in 2015 lasted only 50 minutes as he was out with injury for a major part of the season. A few weeks after the appearance, the marquee signing terminated his contract with the club citing personal reasons.
#3 Renedy Singh - 72 caps
Renedy Singh, India's long-time midfield presence, is the only domestic player on this list. While he had a long career with the Indian national team, Renedy's time at the Blasters was too short to be noticed.
The Manipur-born midfielder made his national debut in 1998 at the age of 19, only two years after his signing first professional contract. The East Bengal youth team product was a mainstay in India's midfield until 2011, appearing in 72 international matches and scoring 12 goals.
He played a vital role in most of the tournaments the team took part in, including the World Cup Qualifiers, the AFC Challenge Cup and the Nehru Cup. The defining moment of his career was the extra time goal he scored against Syria in the 2009 Nehru Cup final, which India went on to win on penalties.
Renedy played his only ISL in 2014, appearing for only 40 minutes over 2 matches. The 40-year-old retired from the game in 2015, after a long career with several clubs including East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.
#2 Dimitar Berbatov - 78 caps
Dimitar Berbatov, despite not parting ways with Blasters on the best terms, will be remembered as one of the legends who plied their trade in Kochi. The former Manchester United man had played 78 matches and recorded 48 goals for the Bulgaria national team before flying down to Kochi.
Berbatov made his national debut at the age of 18 in an international friendly against Greece in 1999. He returned to the national team after a couple of years and became one of the best footballers to ever play for the country, wearing the national jersey till 2010.
In the process, he played competitions including the World Cup Qualifiers and most notably the 2004 UEFA European Championship. Berbatov signed for the Kerala Blasters in 2017 and scored 1 goal from 9 matches.
#1 Aaron Hughes - 112 caps
Aaron Hughes made his journey to Kerala in 2016, when he was way past his prime. Still, the fans welcomed him for his determined outings on the field, including in the 2016 ISL final.
Hughes played 112 international matches for Northern Ireland, the third-most by any player, between 1998 and 2018. He registered his debut in 1998 at the age of 18 under the tutelage of Lawrie McMenemy. The centre-back was a regular in the squad from 2002, until he missed a host of matches in 2005.
Hughes' major competitions include the UEFA European Championship and the UEFA Nations League. In his 20-year long career, the defender was known for his discipline on the pitch, collecting only four bookings in total.Published 20 Apr 2020, 19:19 IST