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Calcutta Football League

Top 10 foreigners who have played in Calcutta Football League

Published at :June 20, 2024 at 3:26 PM
Modified at :June 20, 2024 at 9:24 PM
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Bishal Deb


The Calcutta Football League has seen many top foreigners over the years.

Started in 1898, the Calcutta Football League (CFL) is the oldest in Asia and one of the oldest football competitions in the world. The Indian Football Association (IFA) conducts the CFL with more than 160 mostly Kolkata-based clubs and units.

East Bengal are the most successful club having won it 39 times. From 2010, East Bengal won a record eight consecutive titles until their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan broke the streak in 2018. Mohun Bagan are the second-most successful team, boasting 30 CFL titles. Mohammedan Sporting Club are the defending champions.

Throughout the years, the Calcutta Football League has seen many great foreign players who have left a lasting legacy in the league with their exceptional performances. These players have not only enriched the competition but also helped raise the standard of football in India. 

As the new season is set to begin on 25 June, we take a look at the achievements of the top 10 foreign players who have played in the Calcutta Football League.

10. Roberto Mendes Silva (Brazil)

Roberto Mendes Silva, also known as Beto, arrived in India in 2004 to play for Mohun Bagan. During his time with the club, he had impressive performances in the Calcutta Football League. He later joined Dempo SC and won two successive National Football League (NFL) titles.

After six successful seasons with Dempo winning three league titles and a Durand Cup, he joined Churchill Brothers and added another I-League and Durand Cup to his list of accolades. He established himself as one of the finest players in the Calcutta Football League.

9. Jamshid Nassiri (Iran)

Jamshid Nassiri was a prolific striker who scored 44 goals in just 58 games for East Bengal in the Calcutta Football League and various other competitions. He arrived in India in 1981 and had successful stints with both East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting.

Nassiri’s goalscoring ability and trophy-laden years at these clubs made him a revered figure in Kolkata football. After playing, he transitioned to coaching, further contributing to Indian football. His son Kiyan Nassiri is also a footballer who plays for Chennaiyin FC.

8. Douglas Da Silva (Brazil)

Douglas Da Silva joined East Bengal in 2002 and was instrumental under coach Subhash Bhowmick. In 2002, East Bengal won five tournaments, including the National Football League and the Calcutta Football League.

Douglas played a key role in the 2003 ASEAN Club Championship victory and also helped East Bengal secure back-to-back NFL titles. In 2004, he became the top scorer in the CFL and led East Bengal to three consecutive titles.

7. Uga Okpara (Nigeria)

Nigerian defender Uga Okpara joined East Bengal in 2009 and became a stalwart during Trevor Morgan’s tenure.

His defensive prowess helped East Bengal win multiple Federation Cups and CFL titles from 2010 to 2013. Unfortunately, a leg injury in 2014 ended his career, but his contributions to the club’s success remain memorable.

6. Penn Orji (Nigeria)

Penn Orji was another key figure in East Bengal’s midfield from 2010 to 2013 under Trevor Morgan.

The Nigerian midfielder played a crucial role in East Bengal’s successes, helping them win two Federation Cups and three CFL titles. Orji’s presence in midfield mesmerized fans and solidified his importance in the CFL’s history.

5. Jose Barreto (Brazil)

Jose Barreto is arguably the most successful Brazilian to have played in India. Joining Mohun Bagan in the 1999-2000 season, he immediately made his mark by leading the team to an NFL title and an IFA Shield victory. In the 2001-02 season, Barreto helped Mohun Bagan win five trophies.

His impressive tally of 156 goals in 180 matches solidified his status as a club legend. He played a pivotal role in securing Mohun Bagan’s 28th CFL title in 2008.

4. Suley Musah (Ghana)

Ghanaian defender Suley Musah had a long and illustrious career with East Bengal. Known for his defensive solidity and ability to score goals, he captained the ASEAN Club Championship-winning team and even scored a hat-trick in the CFL.

Musah’s tenure saw East Bengal winning multiple CFL titles from 1998 to 2004, cementing his legacy as a club great.

3. Majid Bhaskar (Iran)

Majid Bhaskar, part of Iran’s 1978 World Cup squad, made a significant impact in Indian football. He formed a deadly partnership with Jamshid Nasri during his time in Kolkata.

Majid played for East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting and impressed the football-loving Kolkata fans with his speed and skills. He led Mohammedan Sporting to several trophies, including the Calcutta Football League in 1982.

2. Chidi Edeh (Nigeria)

Chidi Edeh is widely-regarded as one of the best African players in CFL history and left a lasting impression with his goalscoring prowess. He played for several top Indian clubs, including East Bengal and Mohun Bagan from 2009 to 2014.

Edeh’s remarkable ability to find the back of the net made him the fourth-highest goalscorer in NFL and I-League history and earned him a special place in Kolkata football folklore.

1. Chima Okorie (Nigeria)

Joining East Bengal in 1987, Chima Okorie quickly became one of the elite players in Kolkata football who was known for his extraordinary speed and power.

His ability to outpace defenders and powerful shots made him a constant threat on the field. Okorie’s talent was so evident that he became the first foreigner to be signed by Mohun Bagan in 1991.

During his 12 seasons, he top scored in the Calcutta Football League seven times, a record that still stands. His dominance on the field and remarkable goalscoring consistency left an enduring legacy in the CFL.

Notable Mentions

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  • Katsumi Yusa
  • Do Dong-Hyun
  • Ranti Martins
  • Bello Razzak
  • Dudu Omagbemi
  • Tolgay Özbey
  • Penn Orji

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