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Top 10 international stars who failed in Indian Super League

Published at :August 27, 2022 at 2:10 AM
Modified at :August 27, 2022 at 2:10 AM
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Sattyik Sarkar

Most of these players arrived in the country at the fag end of their career.

The Indian Super League played a crucial role in the development of Indian football. Since its inception in 2014, several foreign stars have come in and enthralled Indian football fans with their top-notch performances. Big names like Ferran Corominas, Roy Krishna, and Bartholomew Ogbeche won Indian football lovers' hearts by performing exceptionally well and registering their names in ISL history.

However, several foreign players who have had glorious careers before joining the ISL, failed in the Indian subcontinent. Here, we take a look at 10 such players who have proven to be a flop in the Indian Super League. 

10. Nicky Shorey

Nicky  Shorey played for Portsmouth, Aston Villa, and Reading and was a promising defender. He featured in ISL 2015 for FC Pune City and failed to put in good performances in the 14 matches he played. Immediately after the season, the club parted ways with Shorey and he joined Colchester United.

9. Jakub Sylvestr

Jakub Sylvestr in action for Chennaiyin FC. (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Slovakian forward Jakub Sylvestr was signed by Chennaiyin FC for the 2020-21 season after his contract expiry with Israeli club Hapoel Haifa. Sylvestr was the club's first-choice striker and the first Slovakian to feature in the ISL. He was signed as a replacement to Nerijus Valskis but his consistent underwhelming performance disappointed everyone.

The 33-year-old featured in 19 games for Marina Machans and scored only two goals and provided three assists. The club wasn't keen to renew his contract and he has now signed for Lithuania's first division club Zalgiris Vilnius.

8. Kristian Opseth

Kristian Fardal Opseth is a Norwegian striker who is well-known as the top scorer of the Norwegian first division with Bodø/Glimt, scoring 28 goals in 30 matches. Bengaluru FC roped him as their first-choice striker for the 2020/21 season. However, he was unable to quench the thirst of the fans and managed to find the net only once in 15 appearances.  

7. Anthony Pilkington

Anthony Neil James Pilkington came to play in the Indian Super League in 2020-21 for East Bengal under Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler. But everything went wrong for the team and the players. The debut season was a nightmare for the Red & Golds. Pilkington struggled a lot to adapt to Fowler's philosophy. The Irish international only scored thrice in 17 appearances. Performances like these were not expected from the former Norwich man.

6. Robert Pires

Robert Pires was FC Goa's captain in 2014. (Courtesy: FC Goa Media)

Robert Pires is one of the greatest players of Arsenal and was rated as the sixth best Arsenal player by the club supporters. He made his senior debut in 1993 and was awarded the best young player that season. This sensational French winger joined Arsenal in 2000 and scored 62 goals and made 41 assists in 148 appearances. He won the 1998 World Cup as well as the Euro 1998. Pires joined ISL side FC Goa in 2014 as the marquee player. He just managed to score once in eight outings.

5. David Trezeguet

David Trezeguet was roped by FC Pune City as their marquee signing for the inaugural season. The French striker's performance was not satisfactory at all. He won several accolades including the Serie A with Juventus and the UEFA European championship with the French national team. He was unable to do justice to his popularity and price tag here in India. 

4. Freddie Ljungberg

Another Marquee signing in the list, Freddie Ljungberg joined Mumbai City in the inaugural ISL season. The Swedish winger had previously played for Arsenal. Signing Ljungberg did not help the Islanders as he failed to guide the team to the playoffs and finished in the bottom half of the points table.

3. Nicolas Anelka

Nicolas Sébastien Anelka is one of the biggest names who came to play in the Indian Super League. The prolific French forward had played crucial roles in the biggest clubs of the world like Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid. In the 2008/09 season, he bagged the Premier League Golden Boot by scoring 19 goals for Chelsea. His golden career includes 69 international appearances and 500 club appearances at the top level.

Nicolas Anelka
Nicolas Anelka was Mumbai City's marquee signing in 2014. (Courtesy: Mumbai City Media)

Anelka signed for Mumbai City in 2014. His debut was a nightmare as they suffered a 1-5 loss against Chennaiyin FC. He just scored two goals in seven matches that season. In the next season, he was appointed as the player-cum-coach but was unable to change Mumbai's fate. 

2. Alessandro Del Piero 

Alessandro Del Piero is well known for his free kick-taking ability and is one of the greatest players in Italian history. The second-highest all-time Italian top scorer won six Serie A titles, four Supercoppa Italiana titles and one UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super cup, UEFA Intertoto Cup, Coppa Italia, and Intercontinental Cup each.

Del Piero signed Delhi Dynamos FC in the 2014. He failed to show his striking skills and did not have much impact for Delhi Dynamos. Del Piero just managed to score just one goal in 10 ISL matches. Delhi missed securing a playoff spot that season.

1. Dimitar Berbatov

Dimitar Ivanov Berbatov is one of the best Bulgarian footballers, known for scoring 48 goals in 108 appearances for Manchester United. Berbatov played a crucial role and won the Premier League twice with the Red Devils. He also became the most expensive Bulgarian footballer. Bulgaria’s all-time top scorer joined Kerala Blasters in 2017. But things didn’t go as planned for the player and the team as he was unable to showcase his skillset and also had a fallout with the coach. He scored just once in nine appearances.