Kerala Blasters, a club that resonates with millions of supporters, has established itself as one of the most famous football clubs in India. A franchise that came into existence in 2014 has now turned into a full-fledged club with reserve and youth teams. A humongous fanbase always stands behind the Men In Yellow, and are known for filling up the stands whenever their team plays at home.
The journey which started in 2014 has not been easy for anyone associated with the club. Even after playing two finals in 6 years, Kerala Blasters have not lifted the coveted trophy till now. The first season was a memorable one for the club as they made it to the final of ISL 2014, though they lost in the final minutes.
On October 13, 2014, Kerala Blasters played their first-ever match against NorthEast United FC in Guwahati. Although the home team were triumphant that day, the game is etched in the hearts of Blasters supporters, as they saw the first set of players who donned the yellow jersey.
On that note, let us have a look at where those eleven men are today.
#1 David James
After plying his trade for various top-flight clubs like Watford, Liverpool and Manchester City, the English goalkeeper played for Kerala Blasters in 2014 as a player-manager. He played the whole season and retired after that.
James returned to the club in 2018 as a mid-season replacement of Rene Meulensteen. His second stint at the club was not long as he found himself unemployed before the end of the season.
In 2019, he took part in the BBC dance show 'Strictly Come Dancing' where he partnered with Nadiya Bychkova, where he got eliminated after a few weeks.
#2 Cedric Hengbart
Cedric Hengbart played for Kerala Blasters in 2014 after having an impressive run in the French Ligue 1. He played for them in 2016 as well, and then played for Maltese club Mosta before retiring from the game.
Remaining connected with the game, Hengbart now coaches the under-17 side of French club Stade Malherbe Caen and nurtures young talents.
#3 Jamie McAllister
Jamie McAllister acted as the player-coach under David James in the first season of the ISL in 2014. Soon after that, he played for Exeter City FC, and in July 2016 he retired from football.
McAllister was subsequently appointed as the Bristol City FC U23's manager, and nine months later, he was promoted to become the assistant coach of the first team.
#4 Nirmal Chhetri
Nirmal Chhetri played 12 games for the Blasters in the inaugural season of the ISL in 2014, including the team's first-ever match in the competition.
Following the completion of the season, he plied his trade for several clubs like Dempo, Northeast United, DSK Shivajians, and FC Goa.
Punjab FC signed Nirmal Chhetri in January 2020, and the 31-year-old currently plays for them.
#5 Avinabo Bag
Avinabo Bag was a product of the Pailan Arrows project and played for Kerala Blasters in 2014. He played just four matches for them that season and wasn't subsequently retained by the club.
Bag played a season for East Bengal, and another for Mohun Bagan, before his career went downhill. He played for Southern Samity, a local Calcutta club and currently plays for Peerless, who won the prestigious Calcutta Football League (CFL) title.
#6 Gurwinder Singh
Gurwinder Singh represented Kerala Blasters in 3 seasons. From 2014 to 2016, Singh played 16 games, including the club's first-ever ISL game against NorthEast United FC in 2014.
In the 2018-19 season, Singh signed for Northeast United, and later moved to East Bengal, where he currently plies his trade.
#7 Stephen Pearson
Stephen Pearson had a rich experience playing in the UK before he signed for Kerala Blasters in 2014. He played in all the 17 matches for them and scored one goal.
Following his debut ISL campaign, the Scottish midfielder had subsequent stints with Motherwell, Atletico de Kolkata, and Motherwell again, before hanging his boots.
Pearson, now living a retired life, is still trying to remain connected with the game.
#8 Mehtab Hossain
Mehtab Hossain is one of the veterans of Indian football. He donned the yellow jersey of the Kerala Blasters in 38 games across three seasons before moving to Jamshedpur FC.
He played his final season for Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan in 2018-19 before announcing his retirement. But that's not the end. Hossain has turned into a manager, and is now managing Southern Samity, a local club in the Kolkata circuits.
#9 Penn Orji
Penn Ikechukwu Orji is a well-known player in the Indian football circuits. He played for several Indian clubs, including Kerala Blasters.
Orji played 13 games in the Blasters' inaugural ISL campaign in 2014 before moving to Shillong Lajong. His last club was Rainbow AC, an I-league second division outfit.
The 29-year-old Nigerian midfielder is presently without a club.
#10 Iain Hume
Iain Hume is one of the most loved and renowned foreign footballers in India. He is respected by one and all, especially the Kerala Blasters fans, who lovingly call him 'Humettan', meaning elder brother.
The Canadian forward had two stints with Kerala Blasters, one in 2014, and other in 2017-18. He also played for ATK and FC Pune City.
Presently, the 36-year-old is without a club, and it is yet to be seen how long he continues to play before calling it a day.
#11 CS Sabneeth
CS Sabeeth played as the striker for Kerala Blasters in their first game. He played in 7 more matches that season before heading to FC Goa. After getting less match-time there, he signed for I-league second division club Ozone FC.
Sabeeth was subsequently loaned out to Minerva Punjab in 2018 but didn't play any game for the club. He continued to be one of the best strikers in I-league second division has is eyeing a move back to the Indian Super League.Published 14 Apr 2020, 20:50 IST