The inherent worldliness of football, its great tradition of free movement of players from one country to another, has also been apparent in Indian football. Earlier, players like Jamshed Nassiri from Iran and Chima Okorie from Nigeria became superstars in Kolkata. (More Football News)
Now, with the Indian Super League (ISL), there are even more foreigners turning out for Indian clubs.
In the ongoing ISL, two foreign signings lead the goals and assists charts. At the time of writing, Dutchman Abdenasser El Khayati of Chennaiyin FC has scored seven goals in six games. Mumbai City FC’s Scottish import Greg Stewart has six assists to his name.
Here are five foreign players, who played in India and made a name for themselves, or are in the process of making it.
Jamshed Nassiri (Iran)
With a thick moustache, dark curly mop and a nose for goals, Jamshed Nassiri was among the notable foreign imports in Indian football history. A forward who represented Iran in the 1977 Fifa World Youth Championship, he made his debut for East Bengal in the Federation Cup final in 1980. He went on to score 72 goals for the club and became their 14th highest goal-scorer. Nassiri also played for Mohammedan Sporting and eventually made India his home. The 63-year-old is an Indian citizen and his son Kiyan Nassiri plays for ATK Mohun Bagan in the ISL.
Chima Okorie (Nigeria)
Nigeria's Chima Okorie, who came to India as a student in 1987, found fame through football, not to mention a love for all things Northeast, such as momos in Assam. Mohammedan Sporting recruited his services from Chandigarh Football Club. However, after two years, East Bengal lured him away. The Nigerian powerhouse scored 100-plus goals for the club and repeated the feat for rivals Mohun Bagan as well. After time away from India, during which he had a stint with Grimsby Town in England, the Nigerian returned in 1997. After his playing career wound down, he took on coaching roles.
Ahmed Jahouh (Morocco)
Morocco are the flavour of the season thanks to their feats at the Qatar World Cup. Here in India, one Moroccan has been delivering time after time in the Indian Super League (ISL). He is Mumbai City FC's Ahmed Jahouh. The 34-year- old is the club's MVP and was instrumental during the 2021-22 season where he provided 7 assists in 15 games. Jahouh has renewed his contract with the club and will be at Mumbai City FC until the end of the 2022-23 season.
Roy Krishna (Fiji)
Fiji international Roy Krishna made his Indian Super League bow for ATK in 2019. After scoring 15 goals in 21 games, Krishna continued to make his mark on Indian football when he signed up for ATK Mohun Bagan (ATK's new iteration). The Fiji forward is currently with Bengaluru FC and continues to be a threat in front of goal.
Bartholomew Ogbeche (Nigeria)
Another Nigerian who has made a name for himself in Indian football is Bartholomew Ogbeche. The 38-year-old has played for some top clubs that include French champions Paris Saint-Germain and Middlesbrough FC to name a few. Ogbeche represented Hyderabad FC, Mumbai City FC, NorthEast United FC and Kerala Blasters in the ISL. The Nigerian might not be plying his trade in India anymore, but has left his mark for good with his lethal pace and scoring ability.