The Indian Super League (ISL) was created with a motive to initiate a football revolution in India. Franchise based league which is high on glamour quotient was something new to the Indian footballing scenario. The recent upsurge of Indian football coming just three years after the ISL inception is no mere coincidence.
While the likes of Sunil Chettri, Balwant Singh, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu were recognized faces even before ISL, some players have been brought into the spotlight by ISL and have gone on to become national team mainstays.
As the ISL 2017 is underway, let us have a look at some of the gems the league has given the Indian national football team.
- Jerry Lalrinzuala (Full-back, Chennaiyin FC)
Having put in fabulous performances for Chennaiyin FC last season, pundits heaped praise on the 19-year old. His pace and crossing ability was highly appreciated and he was named the Emerging Player of the Tournament for 2016 season.
He has given national coach Stephen Constantine a good option for the left back role along with the mainstay Narayan Das.
He made his international debut in a 2-0 win over Nepal. However, he had a baptism with fire in his first international start against Myanmar where he was singled out for being lazy for the first goal in a 2-2 draw.
- Sandesh Jhingan (Centre Back, Kerala Blasters)
Sandesh Jhingan rose to prominence in the inaugural ISL season by becoming the ‘Emerging Player of the Tournament’. This led to a call up in national team in 2015 and he has been a pillar of consistency ever since.
He has become a defensive mainstay in the Indian team and has put in string of heroic performances in the 2019 Asian Cup Qualifiers.
He has also been handed captain’s armband for Kerala Blasters this season.
- CK Vineeth (Forward, Kerala Blasters)
CK Vineeth has been a consistent goalscorer for the clubs he has played for. He was the top Indian goalscorer in 2016 ISL.
He was always in the fringes of the national team but 2016 was his breakthrough year with fantastic displays in both I-League and ISL. His neat finishing and good ball holding ability makes him a vital member of the Indian team.
He has a few good performances for India to his name already, but is yet to show his goal scoring threat at international level.
- Jeje Lalpekhlua (Striker, Chennaiyin FC)
Jeje is seen as the successor to Sunil Chettri. His exploits for the national team has made him an icon.
He was out of reckoning from the national squad in 2014 after which he put in a string of good performances and bagged in four goals for Chennaiyin FC in the inaugural season of ISL.
Since then, there has been no looking back. Jeje won the I-League with Mohun Bagan and ISL with Chennaiyin in a single calendar year.
Also, calling him an able deputy of Sunil Chettri would be a gross understatement as both of them have taken turns to score vital goals for national team in recent fixtures.
- Amrinder Singh (Goalkeeper, Mumbai City FC)
ISL has provided Indian team with a massive pool of goalkeeping reserves. With Gurpreet Singh Sandhu expected to be at helm, the likes of Amrinder Singh, Debjit Majumdar (ATK) and Karanjit Singh (Chennaiyin) are able deputies.
Amrinder was the standout keeper in the 2016 edition where he managed five clean sheets. His performances have resulted in a call up by the national team. He made his international debut in a match against Mauritius.
Some names to narrowly miss out are Anas Edathodika (Jamshedpur FC), Narayan Das (FC Goa) and Holicharan Narzary (Northeast United).