Some of these stars created a lot of ripples among the Indian football fraternity during their time.
The inception of the Indian Super League (ISL) saw the arrival of several high-profile international stars, thus attracting the attention of the ardent followers of the game in the country. However, most of these players’ stints were rather subdued, short-lived and they couldn’t carve much of an impact in the league.
It doesn’t help that many of these players were in the last legs of their playing careers and had only a limited skill-set to offer. However, as we are entangled in this long-spanning break from the sport due to COVID-19, it would be interesting to reflect on where these players are currently in their respective lives and careers.
The former Champions League-winning winger with Liverpool had joined the then Atletico de Kolkata in 2014. He amassed two goals in 13 games for the team and led them to title in the inaugural season.
The 41-year-old last played for Central Coast Mariners in 2016, before calling it a day on his playing career. Since then, he has assumed the role of a football pundit and appears across networks such as Sky Sports, TV3 Ireland and beIN Sports USA.
Italian stalwart Marco Materazzi joined Chenniayin FC as a player-coach in 2014. The centre-back, renowned for winning the World Cup with Gli Azzurri in 2006, had a fairly successful stint with the Chennai-based franchise too. Materazzi was the head coach when Marina Machans won the ISL title in 2015. However, both parties parted ways after three years of association.
Materazzi has been out of footballing action ever since leaving Chennaiyin. The last time he was in the news was when the Inter Milan legend revealed to the media his words that provoked Zinedine Zidane to headbutt him in the final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Brazilian icon Zico was the head coach of FC Goa during the first three seasons. He was vital to the team ending up as runners-up in 2015, whereas, a dismal 2016 campaign meant that he didn’t continue at Goa thereafter. Zico has been keen on administrative roles and has been the technical director at J-League club Kashima Antlers FC since August 2018.
A former World Cup-winner and a vital part of Arsenal’s “Invincibles” squad in 2003-04, Robert Pires came out of retirement to become FC Goa’s marquee player in 2014.
However, his impact on the field was minimal at best, as he played eight matches, scoring a solitary goal. Post that he has donned various ambassadorial roles. Currently, he is carrying out one for Arsenal, whilst being an informal part of the first-team coaching setup.
David James led Kerala Blasters to the final of the inaugural season as a player-coach. He returned to the club for another stint in 2018, this time as head coach of the Blasters for the second half of the 2017-18 campaign and first half of the 2018-19 one. However, he was sacked in December 2018 after a streak of 11 winless games.
He hasn’t been involved in professional football ever since. Last that one knows, he participated in the 17th edition of the British television dance reality show “Strictly Come Dancing” with a ballroom and Latin American dancer named Nadia Bychkova. This happened in 2019, but James was eliminated midway through this show and couldn’t emerge victorious.
Alessandro Del Piero
Alessandro Del Piero is a stalwart of Italian football and especially Juventus. Naturally, his single season with Delhi Dynamos garnered significant attention despite Del Piero’s rather modest performances. He announced his retirement from the sport in October 2015 and later relocated to Los Angeles.
There, the veteran midfielder has opened an Italian restaurant named N10 in the heart of the city. Furthermore, he has decided to initiate some football academies too.
Elano Blumer was Chennaiyin FC’s marquee player in the first season and was quite successful for the Marina Machans. He finished as the highest goalscorer in 2014. In 26 matches, he scored 12 goals in the course of two campaigns. After his tenure in the ISL, Elano went back for a playing stint with Santos in Brazil, though he represented the side only sporadically.
Following his retirement, he became an assistant coach at Santos and went on to don the interim managerial role in two different stints from June 2017-December 2017. In August 2019, Elano was appointed as the manager of Brazilian club Associação Atlética Internacional.
Freddie Ljungberg played merely four matches for Mumbai City, but his involvement with the Islanders created quite a stir among the fans. Ljungberg briefly coached Arsenal’s U-15s in 2016, before joining VfL Wolfsburg as Andries Jonker’s assistant manager in February 2017.
Jonker lasted at the Bundesliga club only until September that year and Ljungberg left with him too. He returned to Arsenal in June 2018 as their U-23 coach and even managed the first-team on an interim basis for six games from November-December 2019. Right now, he is the assistant coach of the first-team under Mikel Arteta.
Joan Capdevila had previously represented Atletico Madrid and Villarreal. He turned out in 12 games for NorthEast United in the first ISL campaign. He had previously won the Euros in 2008 and the FIFA World Cup in 2010 with Spain.
After his time with NEUFC, the former left-back played for Belgian Pro League side Lierse. Furthermore, he joined Santa Coloma – a club in the top football league of Andorra. In July 2017, Capdevila announced his retirement from the game and has stayed away from professional football ever since.
David Trezeguet has been a renowned name in world football, especially for his exploits with Juventus for a decade. In the fag end of his career, Trezeguet joined FC Pune City and scored two goals in nine matches for the Stallions.
In 2018, Juventus acquired Trezeguet’s services as the club’s official brand ambassador to represent them in the field of global commercial development. This contract has tied him to his duties towards the club for three years, which would probably be until the end of 2021.
Stiven Mendoza won the Golden Boot and the ISL title with Chennaiyin FC in 2015 and is hailed as one of the best-ever foreign recruits in the ISL. The forward even had a stint with New York City FC in 2016, but has been playing for French Ligue 1 side Amiens since the 2017-18 campaign.
Mendoza scored five goals in 15 appearances for the club last season. He had a tough year personally in 2019, when his brother was murdered and even he was assaulted at gunpoint in Medellin, Colombia. However, he was called up to Colombia’s 23-man squad for international friendlies against Peru and Ecuador and hence his career looks set to thrive in the coming years.
Iain Hume had begun his journey in the ISL right from the start with Kerala Blasters and continued plying his trade in India for various franchises until 2018-19. With 28 goals and eight assists in 69 ISL matches, Hume became one of the most recognized foreign players in the league. Currently, he is staying away from the game and has lately been seen doing football punditry on the Star Sports network.