TFA has established itself as one of the best football academies in India.
Conceived in 1982 and established in 1987 to provide quality football training to the masses, Tata Football Academy (TFA), located in Jamshedpur, is one of the country’s best youth academies. A brainchild of Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, JRD Tata gave life to the idea of a football academy that represents the values and ethos of Tata Steel.
Since its inauguration, the TFA has gone on to establish itself among the country’s premier academies, producing numerous players who have starred for India internationally. From Carlton Chapman in 1992 to Vinit Rai in 2012, the academy has served as a platform for aspiring Indian players to polish their game.
In this article, we shall look at 10 of the best players to come out from the Tata Football Academy:
10. Narayan Das
27-year-old Narayan Das graduated from the Tata Football Academy and joined Pailan Arrows in 2012. After the folding of the development project, the left-back joined Dempo. He has since turned out for FC Goa, Delhi Dynamos and Odisha FC in the ISL, before rejoining East Bengal with whom he had spent a year in 2017.
Since his international debut as a teen in 2012, Das has played 30 games for the nation, even managing to score once.
On Tuesday, Chennaiyin FC announced that they have signed him ahead of the 2021-22 season.
9. Robin Singh
Robin SIngh graduated from the TFA in 2010. He has a vast experience of playing for multiple teams both in the ISL and I-League. He joined Bengaluru FC in 2013 after spending two years at East Bengal.
The 31-year-old later became a key part in Bengaluru’s Federation Cup triumph, even scoring the winner in the final against Dempo. After leaving Bengaluru he turned out for FC Goa, ATK, East Bengal, Pune City and Hyderabad FC, before joining Real Kashmir on loan from Hyderabad FC. Internationally, he has been capped 30 times and has scored five goals.
8. Udanta Singh
Considered one of the best youngsters in the country currently, the Bengaluru FC winger joined his current club right after graduating from TFA in 2014. He has grown from a budding youngster to an indispensable starter at Bengaluru.
Udanta Singh has won one ISL, one I-League and two Federation Cups with the Blues. Internationally, he has represented India in 29 games and has scored once.
7. Gouramangi Singh
Gouramangi Singh played 71 times for India and scored seven goals. His final goal for the country was the winner against Cameroon in the 2012 Nehru Cup final. He won two Nehru Cups, two SAFF Cups and one AFC Challenge Cup with the national team.
At club level, he spent his best years at Churchill Brothers from 2007 to 2012. He also played for Mohun Bagan, Mahindra United before his spell at Churchill. He later played for Chennaiyin FC and Pune City in the ISL before retiring in 2018.
6. Syed Rahim Nabi
Syed Rahim Nabi graduated from the TFA in 2002 as a 17-year-old. He made his national debut in 2004 and played his most recent game for the country in 2013. In this period, he represented India 37 times, scoring five goals. The left-back spent seven years at East Bengal before joining Mohun Bagan in 2011. He has also played for Mohammedan Sporting, thereby making him one of the few names who have represented all three of Kolkata’s big clubs.
Nabi has played for Mumbai City and Atletico de Kolkata in the ISL as well as spending some time at Bharat FC.
5. Subrata Paul
Goalkeeper Subrata Paul spent two years at the Tata Football Academy from 2002 to 2004. After leaving the academy, he joined Mohun Bagan where he found chances hard to come by. Soon after, he left Bagan for Kolkata rivals East Bengal, with whom he played for two seasons.
Subrata played for a host of teams after leaving East Bengal before joining Mumbai City in 2014-15. Since then, he has turned out for Hyderabad and Jamshedpur FC in the ISL. Internationally he has been capped 67 times for India and was a vital part of the Blue Tigers’ success from 2008 to 2011. He saved a decisive penalty in the 2009 Nehru Cup final, where India won 5-3 on penalties. The shot-stopper was also India’s best player at the 2011 Asian Cup, saving his team on countless occasions. He made 35 saves in the tournament and was lauded for his performance against South Korea especially.
4. Clifford Miranda
Upon graduation from the TFA’s fourth batch in 2000, Clifford Miranda joined Dempo FC. He had a 15-year-long stint at the Goan club, where he won three I-League titles among other trophies. After leaving them in 2015, he turned out for Atletico de Kolkata in ISL 2015, before playing for Minerva Punjab and Churchill Brothers as well.
Internationally, the attacking midfielder was capped 45 times and was a part of India’s two SAFF Championship and one AFC Challenge Cup wins.
3. Mahesh Gawli
Mahesh Gawli graduated from the TFA in 1998 and went on to play 96 games for India in a career that spanned for 17 years from 1998 to 2015. He is most famous for his eight-year spell at Dempo between 2007 and 2015. Before joining the Goan club, the centre-back turned out for FC Kochin, Mahindra United, East Bengal and Churchill Brothers.
Gawli was India’s first-choice centre-back for most of his trophy-laden career. At club level, he won three I-League titles with Dempo and two National Football Leagues with East Bengal and Mahindra United respectively. At international level, he was a key in India’s most successful period from 2007 to 2012, that saw the Blues win two Nehru Cups, two SAFF Cups and one AFC Challenge Cup.
2. Renedy Singh
With a 19-year playing career that saw him play for almost every top club in the country and get capped 72 times internationally, Renedy Singh is one of the best-ever players to come out from the Tata Football academy. The Imphal-born midfielder graduated from the TFA in 1996 and immediately joined East Bengal.
Afterwards, Renedy Singh went on to play for the likes of Mohun Bagan, JCT, Chirag United, Shillong Lajong and even Kerala Blasters in the ISL. He was one of the key players in India’s 2008 Nehru Cup triumph, with his pace and crossing making him a tough player to deal with.
1. Carlton Chapman
After graduating from the academy in 1992, Chapman signed for East Bengal in 1992 where he had two fruitful years. He is known for his famous hat-trick that he scored in East Bengal’s 6-2 win over Iraqi club Al Zawra in the 1993 edition of the Asian Cup WInners’ Cup. Later in 1995, the Bengaluru-born midfielder joined JCT Mills, where he would play alongside Bhaichung Bhutia and IM Vijayan, two of India’s greatest ever players. He later returned to East Bengal in 1998 and spent three years there, leading them to a National Football League title. After retirement in 2001, he also had a career in various management roles.
Carlton Chapman passed away due to a heart attack in October 2020, aged 49. He was all set to join Gokulam Kerala as the Reserves’ head coach before his untimely demise.
Honourable mentions: Pronay Halder, Rino Anto, Vinit Rai.