The Indian Super League (ISL) has attracted a wide range of world stars over the years. In the first few years, the league boasted various football legends, from Alessandro Del Piero to Roberto Carlos. They helped in achieving the primary aim of the Indian Super League, which was to increase the fanbase and following of Indian football.
Having done that, coaches and clubs started to cash in on foreign players in their prime, which would help them have a strong base and stability. Many such players became an integral part of the teams and it paid dividends with the team’s performances. A few have changed clubs, but still, they have made some important contributions to their teams and the league. We take a look at the 5 foreign players who have made the most appearances in the ISL.
5. Edu Bedia (71 appearances)
Edu Bedia is one of ISL’s long-serving foreigners and, along with Juanan Antonio, is the longest-serving foreign player for a single ISL club. The Spanish midfielder came to India in 2017 with a good amount of experience playing in Europe. He made his professional debut with Racing Santander, which played in the La Liga at that time. Edu Bedia was a part of the squad, which had former ATK and Liverpool winger Luis Garcia and current Spain international Sergio Canales.
He was signed by FC Goa ahead of the 2017-18 season in which he made 18 appearances, scoring a goal and assisting two more. Under Spanish coach Sergio Lobera, he was comfortable in the tactical aspect of the game, which helped him get along with the style of play. In the 2018-19 season, he guided FC Goa into the ISL final, scoring 7 goals and bagging 5 assists. He became a part of history in Indian football as he scored the first-ever goal by an Indian team in the AFC Champions League. The captain of FC Goa has played four straight seasons for the club, making 71 appearances with 9 goals and 12 assists.
Juanan (71 appearances)
The Spanish centre back joined Bengaluru FC in 2016 after spending a long time with various European clubs. He was a part of the La Liga side Deportivo La Coruña. He also played in the Bundesliga for Fortuna Düsseldorf in 2012-13. He won the Hungarian league with Újpest in 2014. Under coach Albert Roca, Bengaluru FC roped in Juanan Antonio from US lower division side Rayo OKC. He announced his arrival by scoring the third goal in a 3-1 victory against defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim in the 2016 AFC Cup semi-final.
He played in the I-League in his first season before Bengaluru entered into the ISL. He has played 71 matches for them in the ISL over four seasons. He played a vital role in Bengaluru’s title-winning 2018-19 campaign. The centre back pair of Juanan and John Johnson became one of the strongest defensive combinations in the league. The 34-year-old is expected to lead the defence for Bengaluru, with Fran Gonzalez having left for Spain.
Raphael Augusto (71 appearances)
The Brazilian midfielder played for two ISL clubs in five seasons, during which he was known for his technical ability. A fan favourite, Raphael Augusto signed for Chennaiyin FC in 2015 when he won the league in his first-ever season. However, winning titles wasn’t new to him. Augusto won the American US Open Cup while playing for MLS club D.C. United in 2013. He also won the Polish league with Legia Warsaw in 2014. As Elano Blumer moved back to Santos in 2015, Raphael Augusto took centre stage for Chennaiyin from the next season.
Shrewd passing and vision made him stand out from the rest as he created numerous chances for the attackers. Augusto won his second ISL title with Chennaiyin FC in 2017-18 as he inspired a sensational comeback in the final against Bengaluru FC. He joined Bengaluru FC in 2019. However, Augusto couldn’t show the same supremacy as he only had an assist in 9 games. He has made 71 appearances in the ISL, scoring 6 goals and bagging 7 assists. He joined Abahani Dhaka in the Bangladesh Premier League in 2020.