The fifth edition of the league competition had well-known players involved.
The Indian Super League (ISL) has been home to plenty of fantastic foreign players over the years. The 2018-19 ISL season, which was the fifth edition, had several prominent stars to speak of as well.
This was the season when Bengaluru FC won their maiden ISL crown, breaking FC Goa’s hearts once again in the final. Looking back at the season as a whole, there were many top-level players who performed important roles for their respective clubs.
Without further ado, here’s a list of the most prominent stars from the ISL 2018-19 season and some related information on where they are now:
John Johnson (ATK)
The English defender John Johnson stepped into Indian football in 2013, when he joined FC Bengaluru from Northampton Town. The defender played for ATK in the 2018-19 ISL season after moving to the club from the Blues.
He played 20 games overall across the ISL and Hero Super Cup for the Kolkata-based club. He later went on to win the ISL with the same outfit in the 2019-20 season. The centre-back is currently with ATK Mohun Bagan, however, he was not used by the side in the recently concluded ISL 2020-21 season.
Albert Serran (Bengaluru FC)
Albert Serran joined Bengaluru FC from Moroccan side CR Al Hoceima ahead of their second campaign in the ISL. The centre-back immediately became central to the team and led by example. He was a key player in the team that lifted the title that season.
The Spaniard continued with the club in the 2019-20 season as well. However, BFC decided against renewing his contract since and he left them on October 20, 2020. The 36-year-old is a free agent at the moment.
Gianni Zuiverloon (Delhi Dynamos)
Former ISL outfit Delhi Dynamos signed Gianni Zuiverloon from Cultural Leonesa, a club in Spain’s second division. The Dutch centre-back immediately became a fan-favorite at the Delhi-based outfit. The defender played 17 games and scored two goals in the process.
However, the club finished eighth in the league and ceased to exist after the owners shifted base to Odisha. Kerala Blasters signed the defender ahead of the 2019-20 season, but the move was not entirely fruitful for both parties. Zuiverloon later joined Dutch Eredivisie side ADO Den Haag in November 2020.
Marko Stankovic (FC Pune City)
Marko Stankovic was signed by FC Pune City during the winter transfer window, in the middle of the 2017-18 season. The Austrian, in his first full season, played 13 matches, scored two goals and made three assists for the club.
The midfielder later on played for Hyderabad FC in their inaugural season in 2019-20. Stankovic was one of the few bright sparks for the Nizams that season.
He announced his retirement from professional football in 2020, but still plays for Austrian provincial club SV Lebring.
Paulo Machado (Mumbai City)
Paulo Machado joined the Mumbai City FC squad ahead of the 2018/19 season. The midfielder previously played for clubs like FC Porto, Dinamo Zagreb, Olympiacos and St. Etienne.
During his first year with the Islanders, he played 20 matches, scoring two goals and making four assists. The Portuguese stayed at the club for another year before signing with Leixões SC in August 2020.
Matej Poplatnik (Kerala Blasters)
Matej Poplatnik joined the Kerala Blasters in July 2018. The striker signed from NK Triglav Kranj, who play in Slovenia’s second division. The striker played 16 games for the Yellow Army and scored four goals in the process. However, that was to be the only season for the Slovenian in the ISL.
He left on loan to Kaposvári Rákóczi FC in January 2019 and later moved to Scottish Premiership side Livingston FC in July 2020.
Tim Cahill (Jamshedpur FC)
Jamshedpur FC turned a lot of heads when they announced the arrival of Tim Cahill ahead of the 2018-19 season. The former Everton player was one of the most high-profile signings that season and was playing for English side Millwall FC before joining the ISL.
The Australian played 11 games for the Men of Steel and scored two goals. He retired as a professional after the season concluded.
Most recently, Tim Cahill was appointed as the assistant manager at his former club Everton, after getting promoted from a youth coach role.
Carlos Pena (FC Goa)
Carlos Pena joined FC Goa in August 2018, in preparation for the upcoming 2018-19 season. The Spaniard immediately took a leadership role in the team. The defender helped the Gaurs finish second in the league standings, tied on points with Bengaluru FC. Unfortunately, Pena could not guide the team to their first-ever ISL crown, as the outfit stumbled against BFC in the final.
Pena stayed at the club for one more year, helping them to first place in the 2019-20 league standings after the regular season, which ensured direct AFC Champions League group stage qualification. He announced retirement from professional football in July 2020.