The inaugural season of the ISL had some of really well-known coaches leading the various clubs.

Over the years, the Indian Super League (ISL) has witnessed a lot of incredible coaches trying their hand at winning the competition. The various clubs taking part have also shown great ambition by hiring experienced tacticians in order to achieve success. As you all know, the league competition started in 2014.

Back then, there were only eight teams contesting against each other for the trophy. However, there were some very capable coaches leading those teams.  Many of the head coaches hired during ISL 2014 boasted of playing and coaching at the highest levels in world football.

While ATK’s Antonio Habas continue his journey in Indian football, the others have since left for greener pastures. That said, here is a look at the coaches from the league’s inaugural season and where are they now:

Marco Materazzi (Chennaiyin FC)

Marco Materazzi ISL
The 2006 FIFA World Cup winner led Chennaiyin to the title in ISL 2015

Marco Materazzi, the 2006 FIFA World Cup winner joined the ISL in the inaugural season, as a player-coach at Chennaiyin FC. After the first season, Materazzi slowly shifted into a full-time coaching role for the Marina Machans. Interestingly, this was Materazzi’s earliest steps in his career as a coach.

The second season with CFC in 2016 turned out to be very fruitful for the Italian. The tactician led the club to the league title that year. Since then, he has been without a club. Clearly, there is more to come from him as a coach. 

Zico (FC Goa)

Zico, the legendary Brazilian player, was one of the most impressive coaches in the 2014 edition of the ISL. He helped the Gaurs reach the semi-finals in the first edition, but lost to eventual champions Atletico de Kolkata. However, they went a step further in the second season by reaching the final. On that occasion, Chennaiyin broke Goa’s hearts by beating them 3 – 2.

Zico departed the club by mutual consent after the end of the 2016 campaign. He later joined Kashima Antlers, where he also featured as a player in the past, as the technical director in 2018. He is in the same position today with the J1-League outfit. 

Peter Reid (Mumbai City FC)

Peter Reid was appointed as the head coach at Mumbai City FC in the inaugural season of the ISL. The Englishman came to the league with a lot of pedigree. He had coached teams like Manchester City, Sunderland, England U21s, Leeds United, Thailand national team and Plymouth Argyle prior to leading MCFC.

However, his stint with the club was below-par to say the least. The Islanders finished in seventh place. After leaving MCFC, Reid was appointed as the assistant manager at Bolton Wanderers in 2016. The 64-year-old is without a club at the moment. He too has been doing punditry for various networks.

David James (Kerala Blasters FC)

David James ISL
The former goalkeeper coached Kerala Blasters in two stints – first in 2014 and then in 2018-19

David James joined Kerala Blasters in a player-coach capacity in 2014. His first season with the Yellow Army was very successful. They reached the final, but lost to Atletico de Kolkata. However, the Englishman did not continue with the club post that campaign.

He returned to the ISL later in 2018-19 as a coach at KBFC following Rene Meulensteen’s departure. James was relieved of his duties shortly by the club and has not coached another team since. The former goalkeeper has also been observed doing punditry with popular broadcast networks.

Harm van Veldhoven (Delhi Dynamos FC)

The Dutchman Harm van Veldhoven was the first head coach of Delhi Dynamos FC. He arrived in India with the experience of leading the charge at well-known European sides like Cercle Brugge and Roda JC. He did moderately well in his only season at the Delhi-outfit, who narrowly missed out on the playoffs after finishing at fifth place.

In 2015, the 58-year-old joined Belgian club Westerlo as their coach, but their partnership did not last long. Since his exit from Westerlo, he has not worked with any other football club.

Ricki Herbert (NorthEast United FC)

The former New Zealand player who coached the side in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, took up the coaching job at NorthEast United four years later when the ISL came into existence. Under him the Highlanders could manage only a bottom-of-the-table finish, after which he parted ways with the club.

Herbert then became the head coach with the Papua-New Guinea U-23 side and later the Maldives National Team, before returning to club football in 2017. Hamilton Wanderers, a semi-professional team from New Zealand made him their boss that year, and in 2020 he shifted base to Ba FC, a Fijian club. The 60-year-old is currently the technical director at Kiwi-outfit Cambridge FC.

Franco Colomba (FC Pune City)

Former Italian footballer and coach Franco Colomba was the head coach of FC Pune City in the 2014 ISL season. He arrived at India with the experience of managing several top Italian teams including Napoli, Parma, Verona, Cagliari and so on. However, at Pune, he was able to manage only a sixth-place finish and parted ways with them at the end of the ISL 2014 season.

In 2016, he returned coaching after a brief hiatus by taking up the job at Livorno, a Serie B club. He has since left them and is currently without a club.

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