Fitness issues posed a threat to these players’ career in India.
Ever since the inception of the Indian Super League (ISL) over half a decade ago, there has been an influx of some renowned foreign strikers into the competition. These senior professionals have helped upscale the attention that is encapsulated by the tournament and hence play an incredible role in the brand-building exercise of the ISL.
However, quite often these foreign ‘marquee’ players have arrived at a stage in their careers when they aren’t at the optimum levels of their fitness. Hence, their spell that is looked forward to with such aplomb eventually leaves a bittersweet taste among fans. Here, we look at five such foreign strikers whose time in the ISL was marred with injuries.
5. Robbie Keane (ATK)
Robbie Keane, the Irish forward who had a stellar career with Tottenham Hotspur in the first decade of this century spent a season with ATK in the ISL too. Keane had joined his former teammate Teddy Sheringham who was the team’s head coach at the start of the 2017-18 season. However, Keane’s tenure in Kolkata stumbled even before it could take off properly, as he suffered an Achilles injury during a pre-season training camp in Dubai. He went back for treatment and missed matches until December due to this injury.
Thereon too, Keane could participate in only nine matches in the ISL, but was in brilliant form as he notched six goals. ATK failed to qualify for the playoffs that campaign and one cannot help but think how crucial Keane could have been to their hopes of finishing in the top four had he played all the matches. He even assumed the role of a player-manager for the last three games and then decided to leave the club after the conclusion of the campaign.
4. Eidur Gudjohnsen (FC Pune City)
Rather than being marred, Eidur Gudjohnsen’s time could not even start off with FC Pune City in the ISL. Signed as their marquee player ahead of the third season of the league, Gudjohnsen suffered an injury in a pre-season training session.
Hence, a week before Pune’s first match of the season, Gudjohnsen was forced to pull out of the tournament whilst the club went on the lookout for another player to replace the Icelander. Playing at clubs like Chelsea and FC Barcelona for nine complete seasons combined, he undoubtedly would have brought an invaluable amount of experience and quality to the Pune City roster. Eventually, the Stallions finished sixth at the end of the campaign.
3. Tim Cahill (Jamshedpur FC)
Jamshedpur FC completed a massive coup as they lured in Tim Cahill for the 2018-19 season. One of the veteran foreign strikers and an extremely well-renowned figure in the footballing circuit, Cahill’s time in the ISL was eagerly awaited by the masses.
He missed the first game due to suspension, but managed to appear in 11 matches thereafter. However, in the second half of the campaign, Cahill suffered a torn ligament in Jamshedpur’s goalless draw against FC Goa. He later flew to Manchester to undergo surgery, but the team missed out on a spot in the playoff by merely two points. Cahill scored two goals in the season for Jamshedpur, but later announced his retirement from the sport on 28th March, 2019.
2. Asamoah Gyan (NorthEast United)
Asamoah Gyan arrived at NorthEast United ahead of this campaign amid immense fanfare and expectations. The Ghanaian was supposed to lead the line for NEUFC and he didn’t waste much time getting into the groove either. The sheer quality and talent was on display, as Gyan scored four goals in eight matches before he suffered a minor injury against ATK in December.
The striker had to spend time on the sidelines after that game, but he failed to recover from thereon and it was confirmed by head coach Robert Jarni at the start of this calendar year that Asamoah Gyan might miss the rest of the season due to an unspecified injury. It was definitely a blow for them considering his impact on the team. Subsequently, they also brought in Swedish forward Simon Lundevall, who made his debut against ATK.
1. Helder Postiga (ATK)
Helder Postiga was signed as a marquee foreign striker by ATK in the second season of the ISL. At 32 years of age, he was the youngest to don that role among all the teams at that point in time. Postiga started off the tournament fantastically too, scoring a brace in a 3-2 victory against Chennaiyin FC.
However, he pulled his hamstring towards the end of the game and hence had to be substituted off from the field. In what was supposed to be a 10-day layoff at the start, Postiga missed the entire season due to this injury and therein came a sour end to what could have been a very promising season for the Portuguese forward.
He returned to the club in the next season, but picked up another injury, this time in the second match of the term. However, the knock didn’t aggravate and hamper his season completely, as Postiga played 11 matches, scored two goals and assisted thrice as ATK went on to win the title.