The third season of the Indian Super League (ISL) is set to start on Saturday, with NorthEast United FC set to take on Kerala Blasters at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati.
Ahead of the tournament, here’s a look at the eight marquee players:
John Arne Riise (Chennaiyin FC)
Playing position: Left-back /midfielder
International caps: 110 (2000-13)
Former clubs: Aalesund (1996-98) Monaco (1998-2001), Liverpool (2001-08), Roma (08-11), Fulham (11-14), APOEL FC (14-15), Delhi Dynamos (2015), Aalesund (15-16).
Honours won: Ligue 1, Champions League, FA Cup, Football League Cup, UEFA Super Cup, Community Shield, Cypriot First Division, Cypriot Cup.
Coachspeak: John has had a fantastic career already and was very consistent in last year’s ISL. He will be a very important player for us both on and off the pitch ---- Chennaiyin FC head coach Marco Materazzi.
Riise says: I had a very interesting experience last year in India but this year I am more prepared and more excited and can’t wait to get started with Chennaiyin FC and help them retain the ISL trophy.
About Riise: He may have lost some pace but his trademark free-kicks could help Chennaiyin FC cope with the absence of Elano Blumer, their marquee for two years. A statue bearing a striking similarity with him was put up at his first club and he has a brother, Bjorn, who is also a Norway international.
Lucio (FC Goa)
Playing position: Central Defence
International caps: 105 (2000-11)
Former clubs: Internacional (1997-2000), Bayer Leverkusen (2001-04), Bayern Munich (2004-09), Inter Milan (2009-12), Juventus (2012), Sao Paulo (2013), Palmeiras (2014-15), FC Goa (2015).
Honours won: World Cup (2002), Confederations Cup (2005, 09), Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, Serie A, Club World Cup, Champions League, Supercoppa Italiana
Coach speak: Lucio is an example for all the Indian and foreign players to look up to, he has played for the biggest clubs in the world for so many years with so much professionalism. He brings that out not just through football but his way of life and professionalism in football --- Zico in 2015. (source: goal.com)
Lucio says: We had a good tournament last year and I hope to make FC Goa champions this year. Consistency is the key for us and I am sure that we will do well once again this year under Zico’s leadership.
About Lucio: A defender par excellence, he, however, started as a forward. In 2006 World Cup, he set a record of playing 386 consecutive minutes without a foul.
Helder Postiga (Atletico de Kolkata)
Playing position: Striker
International caps: 71 (2003-14)
Former clubs: Porto (2001-03; 04-08), Spurs (03-04), Sporting CP (08-11), Real Zaragoza (11-13), Valencia (13-14), Deportivo La Coruna (14-15), ATK (2015), Rio Ave (15-16).
Honours won: UEFA Cup, Inter-continental Cup, Portuguese Liga.
Coachspeak: Postiga is a big name for any team and his presence will definitely bolster the team for the season ahead and also allow the Indian and International players to learn from him about the way he goes about preparing for a major tournament like ISL. He has been playing good football of late and we hope he will be in his finest form once he is in India --- Jose Molina
Postiga says: Happy to come back to this fantastic team that received me so well…ready to work.
About Postiga: He played only 74 minutes of ISL2 before being injured and ruled out of the tournament but in that time, he scored two goals. Postiga was also part of the Portugal team that finished second in the Euro 2004.
Florent Malouda (Delhi Dynamos)
Playing position: Midfielder
International caps: 80 (2004-12)
Former clubs: Chatearoux (1996-00), Guingamp (2000-03), Lyon (03-07), Chelsea (07-13), Trabzonspor (13-14), Metz (14-15), Delhi Dynamos (15), Wadi Degla (15-16).
Honours won: Ligue 1, Premier League, FA Cup, Community Shield, Champions League.
Coachspeak: Malouda is a proven champion and a legend. He has won trophies at the highest level and has represented his country in two World Cups. I watched the games from last season and I am very impressed by his performances. He is really well adapted to this league, and that along with his invaluable experience is exactly what the team needs right now --- Gianluca Zambrotta.
Malouda says: It was sad that we had to bow out of the tournament in the semis. It’s a different squad this year, I hope that we can build on what we achieved last season and together aim to lift the trophy this season.
About Malouda: It was a foul on him by Marco Materazzi that earned France a penalty in the 2006 World Cup final which Zinedine Zidane converted. He made 149 appearances for Chelsea.
Didier Zokora (Northeast United)
Playing position: Defensive midfielder
Nationality: Ivorian (Ivory Coast)
International caps: 123 (2000-14)
Former clubs: ASEC Mimosas (1999-00), Racing Genk (2000-04), St Etienne (04-06), Spurs (06-09), Sevilla (09-11), Trabzonspor (11-14), Akhisar Belediyespor (14-15), FC Pune City (15).
Honours won: CAS Super Cup, League Cup, Copa del Rey
About Zokora: The academy at his first club produced Yaya Toure, Salomon Kalou and Gervinho. Zokora is also the most-capped international for Ivory Coast. Brother Armand drowned and Zokora has said he plays every game for him.
Diego Forlan (Mumbai City FC)
Playing position: Forward
International caps: 112 (2002-15)
Former clubs: Independiente (1997-02), Manchester United (02-04), Villarreal (04-07), Atletico Madrid: (07-11), Inter Milan (11-12), Internacional (12-14), Cerezo Osaka (14-15), Penarol (15-16).
Honours: Copa America (2011), Premier League, FA Cup, Community Shield, Intertoto Cup, Europa League, Uruguay Premier Division.
About Forlan: Twice highest scorer in the La Liga and twice winner of the European Golden Shoe, he is also the third from his family to have won the Copa America after his father and grandfather.
Eidur Gudjohnsen (FC Pune City)
Playing position: Forward
International caps: 88 (1996--)
Former clubs: Valur (1994), PSV (94-98), Bolton Wanderers (98-00), Chelsea (2000-06), Barcelona (06-09), Monaco (09-10), Stoke City (10-11), AEK Athens (11-12), Cercle Brugge (12-13), Club Brugge (13-14), Bolton Wanderers (14-15), Shijiazhuang Ever Bright (15-16), Molde (15-16).
Honours won: Eredivisie, Premier League, Community Shield, League Cup, La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup.
In a major setback to FC Pune City, marquee player Eidur Gudjohnsen has been ruled out of the upcoming third edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) due to their respective injuries. No replacement has been named yet.
Aaron Hughes (Kerala Blasters)
Playing position: Defender.
Nationality: Northern Ireland
International caps: 103 (1998--)
Former clubs: Newcastle (1997-05), Aston Villa (05-07), Fulham (07-14), QPR (14), Brighton and Hove (14-15), Melbourne City (15-16).
Honours won: Europa League.
Coachspeak: He will bring a wealth of experience, he will also mentor the players. I am looking forward to working with him --- Steve Coppell.
About Hughes: Made his European championship finals debut this year and is also the highest capped outfield player from Northern Ireland.