These individuals took the league’s popularity to a higher level than before.
The Indian Super League (ISL) has been a blessing to Indian football. Thanks to the inception of the tournament, there has been an increase in investment, focus and attention to developing the sport. This does not mean that there was no presence of a commitment towards the sport before. However, thanks to the ISL, Indian football enthusiasts got to witness some of the most iconic players play in the country. Seeing those world-class players live was a sensational experience.
Players with the experience of playing in top European leagues like the Premier League, Serie A, and La Liga and international experience of playing at the World Cup, Euros and more became part of the ISL in the past. These superstars helped the league spread its roots across the corners of the nation.
It is interesting to see how those individuals went on after their small stint with India got over. On that note, here are some iconic ISL players and where they are now:
Marco Materazzi was a former FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League and multiple times Serie A winner before joining Chennaiyin FC in the ISL. The centre-back came to India in 2014 as a player/manager of the Marina Machans. He led the club to the ISL title in the second season too.
Today, the former Italian international is working with FIFA for the promotional activities leading up to the World Cup 2022 and also ventured into NFTs.
Roberto Carlos was one of the high-profile arrivals in India for the 2015 season as a player/manager at Delhi Dynamos. The Brazilian is still regarded as one of the best left-backs that the sport has ever seen.
He was popular for his powerful shots and free-kicks. The former FIFA World Cup winner currently works as an ambassador of the sport.
Kerala Blasters FC turned heads by signing former Manchester United forward Dimitar Berbatov. The Bulgarian international came to the ISL in 2017 and retired as a professional after one season with the Yellow Army.
Today, he works as a football pundit, an ambassador and was also the Assistant Manager at Etar, a football club in Bulgaria.
Nicolas Anelka had a very expansive club career, playing for the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Chelsea and more. Before finishing his career as a professional player, he featured for Mumbai City FC in the ISL for a season.
The Frenchman was the sporting director at Hyeres football club and had also made his foray into football management prior to this position.
Helder Postiga is one of the most famous Portuguese forwards of his generation who played for FC Porto, Tottenham Hotspur and other major European clubs. He spent two seasons with Atletico de Kolkata, winning the ISL in the second occasion in 2016.
Postiga retired as a professional after the stint with the Kolkata-based club and currently works as an ambassador in Portuguese football.
One of the all-time greats in Australian football, Tim Cahill came to the ISL by signing for Jamshedpur FC in 2018. The former Everton FC midfielder was popular for his shadow boxing celebration and featured for Australia in three World Cups.
He was an academy coach at EFC and an assistant manager later at the club. Currently, Cahill is a board member at KAS Eupen, a club in Belgium.
John Arne Riise
John Arne Riise came to the Indian Super League after signing for Delhi Dynamos FC in 2015 and signed later with Chennaiyin FC in 2016. A legend in Norwegian football, the former Liverpool defender works as a manager now.
He was the Sports Director at Birkirkara in 2019, then managed Flint Tonsberg in 2020. Riise is currently the manager of the women’s team at Avaldsnes Idrettslag.
Another French great that became part of the ISL in the latter stages of his playing career was Robert Pires. The former Arsenal legend played for FC Goa in the inaugural season as the marquee player.
After retirement, he was briefly part of the coaching department at Arsenal. Post that role, he went into coaching Spanish lower-league side Pena Deportiva.
Former Chelsea and Romanian international Adrian Mutu also came to the ISL. The attacking midfielder FC Pune City scored four times in 10 appearances in 2015. The 43-year-old retired in 2016 as a player and now works as the manager of FC Rapid, a Romanian club. He was also the manager of the Romania U21 side from 2020 to 2021.
Freddi Ljungberg played briefly for Mumbai City FC in 2014 and retired as a professional later. The Swede is considered a legend at Arsenal and also played for West Ham United for a short time.
Post his retirement, Ljungberg ventured into football coaching, taking up a role at Arsenal’s youth teams. He was also the interim manager of the senior team for six games in 2019. Currently, he is without a club.