ISL 2020-21:World Cup-winning heroes who have played in ISL: The Indian Super League, ever since its inception in 2014, has transformed the football landscape in the country. Not just that, the league brought several stars of the beautiful game to descend to India and ply their trade in the league.
Now, after six successful seasons it stands tall as one of the most watched football league on earth and the success of the league can only be attributed to the players and the quality of football on display.
Let us recap five such FIFA World Cup winning stars who have played in the Indian Super League.
1. World Cup-winning heroes who have played in ISL-David Trezeguet
France, FC Pune City
The former French striker, who was just 20 when he was selected in the French squad for the 1998 FIFA World Cup at home, represented his national colours in all the matches except the finals against Brazil which the French won 3-0 at Paris.
After his five-year stint at Monaco, Trezeguet moved to the Turin giants Juventus whom he represented for ten years.He won two Serie A, one Serie B and a Supercoppa Italiana title during his stay with Juventus. After his Juventus stint, he played for several Argentine and Spanish clubs before joining the ISL side, FC Pune City in July 2014 for the inaugural edition of the league.
He represented the Orange army in 9 matches in the first season, scoring two goals. Trezeguet announced his retirement from the game in January 2015.
2. World Cup-winning heroes who have played in ISL- Alessandro Nesta
Italy, Chennaiyin FC
The former Italian centre-back represented the Azzurri for ten years (1996-2006), winning 78 International caps. Though he played three World Cups with Italy (1998, 2002 and 2006), he found success the 2006 FIFA World Cup
He moved to the ISL side Chennaiyin FC in 2014 after a one year stint with the Major League Soccer side, Montreal Impact. Nesta played just three games for Chennaiyin FC in the entire first season (2014), finishing as the Semi-Finalist. In the following year, he took the managerial role of the North American Soccer League side, Miami FC.
3. World Cup-winning heroes who have played in ISL- Robert Pires
The former French International went on to lift the1998 FIFA World Cup at home as the French defeated the mighty Brazilians 3-0 in the finals at Paris.
He also won the 2000 UEFA European Championship and the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2001 and 2003 with France. Pires represented the North Londoners in 189 matches across six seasons, scoring 62 goals. Under Arsene Wenger, he evolved as one of the best during his successful six-year stint with the Gunners.
He played a vital role in Arsenal’s ‘Invincible’ 2003-04 season. In September 2014, he was signed by the Indian Super League side FC Goa as their marquee player for the inaugural edition of the league.
He made his ISL debut in a 1-2 home defeat to Chennaiyin FC in October 2014. Pires, who played eight matches for FC Goa in the 2014 ISL en route to their semi-final finish was released by them in March 2015.
4. World Cup-winning heroes who have played in ISL-Marco Materazzi
Italy, Chennaiyin FC
The former Italian centre-back represented the Azzurri for eight years, winning 41 International caps. Though he scored only twice in his International career, Materazzi headed home the all-important equalizer in the 2006 FIFA World Cup final against France to cancel out Zinedine Zidane’s seventh-minute penalty.
Italy eventually won 5-3 on penalties at Berlin, as the match ended 1-1 even after extra time.
Indian Super League side Chennaiyin FC signed him in September 2014 as a player-manager for the inaugural season of the ISL after his three years stint with Inter Milan.
He played seven matches for the ‘Marina machans’ in the inaugural season in which the Chennai side lost in the semi-finals against Kerala Blasters after topping the league standings. In the next season, he took up the full-time managerial role and led Chennai to a memorable title win. He stayed with the Chennaiyin FC for another season (2016), before ending his association in March 2017.
5. World Cup-winning heroes who have played in ISL- Joan Capdevila
Spain, NorthEast United FC
Capdevila played all the seven matches of the Spanish team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which they won at Johannesburg by defeating the Dutch 1-0 in the finals. Though he played for several Spanish clubs in his career, his stints with Deportivo La Coruna (2000-2007) and Villarreal (2007-2011) were highly successful during which he won one Copa del Rey and a Spanish Super Cup.
The defender joined the Indian Super League side Northeast United FC in 2014 as their marquee player for the inaugural season, after his two-year stint with the Spanish club, Espanyol.He played 12 matches for the Highlanders in the 2014 ISL, in which the side finished last out of the eight teams with just three wins out of fourteen league games. Capdevila left ISL and joined Belgian side Lierse the following year.