Some of the stars in the list have become household names for the Highlanders faithful.

NorthEast United have been a part of the Indian Super League since in its inaugural season back in 2014. The Highlanders have seen their fair share of high and lows in the last seven seasons. Having failed to qualify for the playoffs in the first four seasons, they have now finished in the top four twice in the last three seasons.

Since their formation, a variety of players have represented the club. However, only a few among them managed to win the hearts of the fans completely. Names of these players chanted often during the games, even if they have left them a while ago.

Here are five all time fan favorite players at NorthEast United.

5. Simao Sabrosa

The Portuguese represented NorthEast United for only one season. The Highlanders signed him as the marquee in 2015. An influential player from the bench, Simao was regarded widely for his performances as a substitution during his time with the club.

Simao (middle) made 10 appearances for the highlanders

Simao made his ISL debut after coming on off the bench and scoring in the 90th minute against Chennaiyin FC. However, the highlight of his time with the club has to be the free kick he scored to equalize against Delhi Dynamos.

The winger made 10 appearances for the Highlanders, scoring three goals and registering two assists.

4. Bartholomew Ogbeche

Bartholomew Ogbeche
Ogbeche inspired NorthEast United to their first ever ISL playoffs

Another player who had represented NorthEast United for a single season. Despite having played for the club for only one campaign, Ogbeche is the highest goalscorer in their history. The Nigerian scored 12 goals in the 2018-19 season guiding the club to their first ever playoff qualification, which made him a fan favorite.

The Nigerian marksman left the following season to join Kerala Blasters. However Ogbeche still remains a favorite among the Highlanders’ fans for his contribution in their first ever playoffs appearance.

3. Lalengmawia

Lalengmawia is currently in the final year of his contract with the club

One of the Highlanders’ very own. Lalengmawia, also referred to as Apuia, has won the hearts of the NorthEast United fans with his performance. He joined the club in 2019-20 and turned out to be one of the only positives in a rather bleak season.

The young midfielder really came to terms in 2020-21, when he played an integral role in the club’s third place finish. He also won the Emerging Player of the Year award and became the youngest player to captain an ISL side.

Lalengmawia is currently in the final year of his contract with NorthEast United and recent rumors of his exit have not bode well with the fans.

2. Nicolás Vélez

Velez was an instant hit with the Highlanders’ fans

It has been five years since Nico Velez played his final match for NorthEast United and some fans still want him back at the club. The Argentine featured for the highlanders for two seasons in 2015 and 2016. The forward became a fan favorite in his first season after scoring five goals in 12 appearances and playing a crucial role in the club’s fifth place finish, narrowly missing the playoffs.

Velez returned in the next season and scored three goals in 11 appearances. To this day, the forward reciprocates the love shown to him by the NorthEast United fans. His social media posts are evident that he still follows the club, thus strengthening his position in the hearts of the fans.

1. Federico Gallego

King Fede, as he is fondly called by the Highlanders’ fans, has represented the club for three seasons now, the most by any overseas player. During his time with the club, he has been influential in guiding the team to the playoffs in two seasons.

Odisha NorthEast United
Gallego has been influential in the Highlanders’ third place finish in the 2020-21 season

In his first season with the club, the Uruguayan scored four goals and assisted four more as they qualified for the playoffs for the first time.  However, a horrific injury suffered in the semifinal meant he missed half of next season.

Gallego returned for a third term in the 2020-21 season and was very influential with his four goals and six assists as the Highlanders finished third, their highest ever finish.

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