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Top 10 Spanish players in ISL history

Published at :June 24, 2024 at 1:38 PM
Modified at :June 24, 2024 at 1:38 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL media)

Preethi Raj

Several Spanish players have dominated the ISL stage over the years.

The Indian Super League (ISL), since its inception, has witnessed a significant Spanish influence. Spanish footballers have flocked to India, bringing a distinct tactical approach and technical finesse. While many have impressed, a few have become legends, synonymous with the League’s rise. This influence is multifaceted.

Star Spanish signings have brought global recognition and attacking prowess, inspiring young Indian players. Others, like midfield maestros and composed defenders, have become the silent anchors, dictating play with tactical intelligence.

Their impact transcends individual accolades. They’ve bridged the gap between Indian and Spanish football cultures, elevating the ISL’s quality and fostering understanding of Spanish tactics among Indian coaches and players.

This exchange has benefitted Indian football and the ISL immensely, paving the way for a more technical future.

The following players represent just a fraction of the Spanish talent that has graced ISL.

10. Alberto Noguera

Alberto Noguera’s footballing journey has been a whirlwind of experiences. From his beginnings in Spain’s Tercera División to a taste of La Liga with Atlético Madrid, his career has been marked by a constant drive to test himself in new environments. One such chapter unfolded in the Indian Super League (ISL).

In 2020, Noguera landed at FC Goa, bringing his experience and tactical nous to a league on the rise. India offered a fresh challenge, and Noguera embraced it wholeheartedly

His success with FC Goa didn’t go unnoticed. Mumbai City FC came calling, and Noguera continued to impress in the ISL. His ability to seamlessly integrate into different teams showcased his professionalism and commitment to the league.

While his time in the ISL might be on pause for now, Noguera’s impact remains undeniable. He left a mark on both FC Goa and Mumbai City FC, contributing to their success and inspiring fans with his skill and dedication.

9. Odei Onaindia

Odei Onaindia’s journey in becoming a defensive stalwart in the ISL is a testament to perseverance and resilience. He honed his skills in the lower leagues of Spain, carving a path through clubs like Barakaldo CF, Burgos CF, and CD Mirandés.

In 2020, he embarked on a new adventure, venturing abroad to join Hyderabad FC in the Indian Super League. While his initial stint in India was successful, Odei returned to Mirandés in Spain for a season. However, the lure of the ISL proved strong. In 2022, he was back in Hyderabad, once again solidifying their defense

The 2023 season marked a turning point for Odei. He made a key move to FC Goa, a decision that has paid dividends for both the player and club.

His experience and leadership have transformed the Goan backline. His ability to read the game, dominate aerial battles, and orchestrate his defensive line has been nothing short of impressive. This season, Odei Onaindia has emerged as one of the best defenders of FC Goa in this season of the ISL.

8. Igor Angulo

Hailing from Spain and honed at the famed Athletic Bilbao youth academy, Igor Angulo wasn’t your typical foreign signing for the ISL. This striker, who had already conquered the Greek Cup as the top scorer in 2014-15, arrived at FC Goa in the 2020-21 season with a point to prove. Angulo wasted no time establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with.

His ability to adapt and contribute to the team’s overall play was instrumental in their journey to the ISL semi-finals. The following season saw Angulo embark on a new adventure, joining Mumbai City. There, he continued his goalscoring exploits, finishing the season as the joint second-highest scorer with 10 goals.

However, a calf strain robbed him of the chance to showcase his talent on the grandest stage – the AFC Champions League. Igor Angulo’s story in the ISL is one of redemption and resilience. From a relatively unknown striker to a Golden Boot winner and a top scorer, he carved his niche in the league. While injuries hampered his journey momentarily, his impact on both FC Goa and Mumbai City remains undeniable

7. Javi Hernandez

Spanish midfielder Javi Hernandez has carved a unique path through the Indian Super League (ISL) since his arrival in August 2019. His journey began with ATK, where he quickly established himself as a creative force in their midfield. His vision, passing, and ability to dictate the tempo of the game made him a valuable asset.

However, with the merger of ATK and Mohun Bagan in 2020, Javi Hernandez found himself presented with a new opportunity. He opted to stay on, signing a one-year contract with the newly formed ATK Mohun Bagan FC.

In July 2021, Javi Hernandez made a move to Odisha FC, showcasing his adaptability and willingness to explore different teams within the ISL. Javi Hernandez’s story exemplifies the growing appeal of the ISL for foreign players. The league offers a competitive platform, passionate fans, and the chance to be a key figure in a developing football scene.

ALSO READ: Top 10 South American players in ISL history

6. Tiri

Unlike many Spanish footballers who view the ISL as a brief pitstop, Tiri has carved a unique path. His journey began in the Spanish second division with Cadiz FC, but his hunger for a larger stage led him to India. In 2015, he landed at Atletico de Kolkata (ATK), then in its infancy.

This move proved pivotal for both the player and the club. Tiri’s composure and aerial dominance solidified ATK’s defense, and his contributions were undeniable as they lifted the ISL trophy in 2016. However, after this initial success, Tiri felt the pull of his homeland. He returned to Spain for a short stint with Marbella FC.

Jamshedpur FC welcomed him in 2017, and his presence continued to inspire confidence in the backline. In 2020, another homecoming awaited him – this time, a return to Kolkata, but with the newly formed ATK Mohun Bagan. His experience and leadership were instrumental in forging a formidable defensive unit for the club. Currently, Tiri finds himself at Mumbai City FC, showcasing his talent yet again.

5.Edu Garcia

Eduardo Garcia Martin, or Edu Garcia as he’s better known, has carved a unique path in the world of football. His journey began in his hometown club, Zaragoza, Spain, laying the foundation for his technical skills. But his ambition led him to explore new horizons, and in 2017, he embarked on an adventure in India, joining ISL side Bengaluru FC. This first stint in the ISL proved to be a springboard.

Though his appearances were limited (14), Edu Garcia’s impact was undeniable. He impressed with his creative flair, contributing two goals and five assists. This promising start paved the way for a move to ATK, where he truly blossomed. Over two seasons with ATK, Edu Garcia emerged as a key player. He racked up an impressive nine goals in 22 matches, showcasing his attacking prowess and adaptability.

His contributions were instrumental in ATK’s glorious title win during the 2019-20 season, etching his name in the club’s history books. Edu Garcia’s talent continued to attract interest, leading him to Hyderabad FC for the 2021-22 season. Currently, Edu Garcia finds himself contracted with Shenzhen Peng City F.C. until 2024.

4. Juanan

Juan Gonzalez, or Juanan as he’s better known, isn’t just another name in Bengaluru FC’s history. The Spanish center-back arrived ahead of a truly unforgettable season for the club – their run to the 2016 AFC Cup Final. Juanan’s presence wasn’t just symbolic; it solidified Bengaluru’s defense into a formidable unit.

His contribution extended far beyond his defensive prowess. In a moment etched in Bengaluru FC folklore, Juanan became a hero by scoring the winning goal against Johor Darul Ta’zim in the AFC Cup semi-final at the Fortress.

But Juanan’s dedication to Bengaluru FC transcended the pitch. His love for the club and the city is embodied in his tattoo of the famous Shiva Temple on his sleeve. Juanan’s journey with the club eventually concluded, but he continued his Indian adventure by moving to Hyderabad FC for the 2021-22 season.

3.Edu Bedia

Unlike many foreign players who flit through the ISL for a season or two, Edu Bedia carved a unique space for himself at FC Goa. He wasn’t just another import; he was a cornerstone, a La Liga-tested midfielder who brought a touch of Spanish elegance to the Goan midfield.

His creativity in central midfield was a revelation for fans, his vision and passing dictating the tempo of FC Goa’s attacks. Bedia’s dedication to the club is a story in itself. He stands tall as one of the longest-serving foreign players in the entire ISL.

Over five seasons, he became synonymous with FC Goa’s success. His influence transcended mere statistics – though his tally of 11 goals and 15 assists speaks volumes.

Bedia’s defining moment arrived in FC Goa’s historic League Winners’ Shield triumph. He orchestrated attacks with his pinpoint passing, culminating in a crucial goal and an assist during the decisive match. He etched his name in history by scoring FC Goa’s first-ever goal in the AFC Champions League.

Edu Bedia wasn’t just a player for FC Goa; he was the conductor who orchestrated their rise, a creative force who left an indelible mark on the club and the ISL.

2. Borja Fernandez

Borja Fernández’s story bridges continents and cultures. This Spanish defensive midfielder’s career began where dreams are born – the youth academy of Real Madrid. While he didn’t carve his professional path with Los Blancos, he honed his skills there before moving to Real Valladolid, where he became a regular fixture in La Liga. Borja’s ambition extended beyond Spanish shores. In 2011, he took a bold step, joining Deportivo de La Coruna and celebrating their triumph in the Spanish second division. But his greatest success story was yet to be written.

In 2014, something remarkable happened. Borja made a decision that would change the course of his career and the landscape of Indian football. He joined Atlético de Kolkata, venturing into the relatively new ISL.

This move proved to be a masterstroke, not just for Borja but for the league itself. His experience, leadership, and tactical nous were instrumental in propelling ATK to two ISL titles, in 2014 and 2016. In 2016, the honor of captaining ATK was bestowed upon him – a testament to his dedication and impact on the team.

Borja continued to feature in La Liga for Real Valladolid, amassing over 200 appearances in the prestigious league. Finally, in 2019, the curtain fell on an illustrious career. Borja decided to hang up his boots after playing his final La Liga match for Real Valladolid

1. Ferran Corominas

Ferran Corominas, or Coro as he’s fondly known, wasn’t just another Spanish import in the ISL. He was a goal-scoring phenomenon who arrived at FC Goa ahead of the 2017-18 season and promptly rewrote the record books. Before he arrived in India, Coro had already established himself as a force to be reckoned with, boasting appearances in the UEFA Cup (now called the Europa League) and over 200 appearances in the prestigious La Liga.

His consistency in front of goal was unmatched. Coro’s deadly finishing saw him bag the Golden Boot Award in both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. In his debut season, he plundered an impressive 18 goals in just 20 matches, including a pair of unforgettable hat-tricks against Bengaluru FC and Chennaiyin FC. This scorching form was instrumental in propelling FC Goa to the semi-finals that year.

The following season was no different. He notched another 16 goals in 20 matches, once again claiming the Golden Boot. Coro emerged as the top scorer for the Gaurs in their triumphant Super Cup run in 2019, contributing a vital five goals. Coro’s reign in Goa was a period of dominance and individual brilliance. He wasn’t just a finisher; his tactical awareness and leadership qualities made him a complete package.

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