Indian footballers are widely respected in their home country. Many of the players that have become household names in India have refused to move abroad and instead aimed at improving the quality in their homeland and ensuring more fans are engaged in the sport.
These big names staying in India have ensured that the popularity of the sport has remained high according to Vadim Mikelevich. As well as this, betting on the sport with sites such as the 22Bet app has increased. Nowadays, there are a huge number of markets available to gamblers, which ensures that fans are engaged in all fixtures. But, which players have ensured that the popularity of football in India has been allowed to rise?
There are not many bigger names in Indian football than Sunil Chhetri. The only active player to have scored more international goals than the striker is Cristiano Ronaldo. Chhetri is widely regarded as the best Indian player of all-time and has won the AIFF Player of the Year on six occasions. He also led Indians to their first Asian Cup in nearly 30 years in 2008. He remains an important player for Bengaluru, as he has scored 38 goals in 68 games. Throughout his career, he has played 201 goals and has scored an impressive 102 goals.
When it comes to noteworthy Indian footballers, it is impossible to look past Bhaichung Bhutia. He is a regular face that is familiar to sports fans, as he famously boycotted the Olympic torch relay as a show of respect towards the Tibetan Independence movement. On the pitch, he was also incredibly talented, and only one player has appeared for India on more occasions than Bhutia. The striker enjoyed success in numerous countries, as he played in England for Bury for three years. He scored three goals in 37 games for Bury. Internationally, he scored 41 goals in 82 games for India, which is an impressive average of a goal every other game.
Very few Indian players have been able to become household names despite being a defender. However, Sandesh Jhingan has made that position his own. He famously rose to fame after being awarded the rising player award in 2014, before he made his international debut for India a year later. He made his name playing for the Kerala Blasters, and he remains the player to have played for the club the highest number of times. In 2017, he signed a new deal which made him the highest-paid defender in the Super League. However, he left the club in May 2020, with Indian fans now awaiting his decision on what he will do next.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Goalkeepers are often overlooked, but Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has quickly become a household name in India. The 28-year-old has been a regular for East Bengal and Bengaluru throughout his career. He made his name during a six-year stay with East Bengal. During that period, he earned his first international call-up as he made his debut in 2011. He had a brief stint with Norwegian side Stabaek, before returning to Indian to play for Bengaluru.
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