Football in India is on the rise in recent times, with the country producing some excellent players and here we take a look at five of their highest capped players.
1. Sunil Chhetri – 115 international caps
The most famous footballer from India and their most capped one, Sunil Chhetri has been part of the national set-up since 2005, during which he has registered a number of milestones including becoming the all-time highest goalscorer in the country’s history with 72 to his name at present.
At 35, his career might be winding down but he remains as prolific as ever and will be expected to continue on for a couple of years more.
2. Bhaichung Bhutia – 107 international caps
The original face of football in India, Bhaichung Bhutia will go down in history as arguably the country’s greatest ever player with the Sikkimese sniper making 107 appearances and scoring 43 goals for the Blue Tigers.
His excellence and contribution to Indian football also fetched him the the Arjuna Award (1998) and the Padma Shri (2008), in addition to a host of professional and personal honours.
3. I.M. Vijayan – 88 international caps
Kerala’s most celebrated footballer and the holder of scoring the fastest ever goal by an Indian in international football, I.M. Vijayan made 88 appearances during which he displayed brilliant skill and entertained us with his exciting free-kicks and overhead volleys.
Thrice named player of the year by the AIFF (1992, 1997, 2000), Vijayan was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 2003.
4. Shabbir Ali – 76 international caps
A prolific striker during the 1970’s and 80’s and one of the very few Indian players who starred both as a player and coach, Shabbir Ali made 76 appearances for the national team and in 2011 was awarded the Dhyan Chand Award, the country’s highest award for lifetime achievement in sports.
5. Climax Lawrence – 72 international caps
Widely considered to be one of the best midfielders in Indian footballing history, Climax Lawrence made 72 appearances between 2003-2011 and led the Blue Tigers to victory in the 2011 SAFF Championship.
He decided to hang up his boots at the relatively young age of 33.