In a country where cricket is regarded as a religion, football is quickly growing as another sensation in the minds of people, particularly among the youth. Football, like cricket, has its roots in India, dating back to the British Raj. India has a long and illustrious history with football, having hosted some of the world’s oldest tournaments, including the Durand Cup (1888). While there are many aspects to examine when determining a club’s success, one of the most commonly cited criteria is the number of titles won, which can range from league championships to cup competitions. Here, the number of league titles (NFL, I-League, ISL), as well as Durand Cup and Federation Cup victories, are considered when selecting the 5 best Indian Football clubs of all time.
The following is a list of 5 Best Indian Football Clubs Of All Time:
5. Bengaluru F.C.
The team was founded on July 20, 2013. Their first competitive season in the I-League started on September 22, 2013. The team has won two I-League titles, one in its inaugural season, two Federation Cup titles, one Indian Super League title, and one Super Cup trophy since its existence.
Bengaluru FC played its first match on September 22, 2013, against giants Mohun Bagan, which resulted in a 1–1 tie. The team went on to win the I-League in its first and third seasons.
After losing 1-0 against Air Force Club in Doha, the Blues became the first Indian club to reach the AFC Cup final. Bengaluru won three league titles and two Federation Cups in 2015 and 2017, as well as a Super Cup in 2018. In 2017, the team won its second Federation Cup title before moving to the Indian Super League, where it finished second in the 2017-18 season. In 2018–19, they were the ISL champions. The club competed in the AFC Cup for four years in a row between 2015 and 2018. Bengaluru reached the final of the 2016 AFC Cup but lost 1–0 to Iraq’s Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya.
With players like current Indian football team captain Chhetri on its roster, the club is regarded as one of the new trend-setters in terms of professionalism.
4. Salgaocar F.C.
In 1956, the Salgaocar Sports Club was formed. It was developed by VM Salgaocar, the founder and President of the VM Salgaocar Group of Companies. Their main aim was to provide a platform for Goan youngsters to expose their potential to the rest of the country and the world.
Salgaocar SC became the first Goan team to be invited to play in the famous Durand Cup in New Delhi in 1962.
Salgaocar has won 21 Goa League titles, four Federation Cups, three Durand Cups, three Rovers Cups, two Indian Super Cups, the National Football League in 1998–99, and the I-League in 2010–11. Under the direction of Coach Shabbir Ali, they were the first Goan team to win the NFL in 1998–99. In addition, it is the first Goan club to win the Goa Super Division, Federation Cup, Goa Professional League, Durand Cup, and the erstwhile Indian Super Cup.
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Salgaocar withdrew from the I-League for the 2016–17 season, citing the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) anti-I-League prejudice. Currently, the club competes in the Goa Professional League.
3. Dempo S.C.
Dempo Sports Club was founded in 1967. The Whites, as they are nicknamed, have consistently competed in all of the national football tournaments. Dempo SC made history by being the first Indian football team to reach the AFC Cup semi-finals in 2008.
The club earned its first National Football League title in the 2004–05 season. They won the league again in 2006–07, and then three I-League titles in 2007–08, 2009–2010, and 2011–12. This makes them one of the most successful clubs on the national scene with five national league trophies. They are tied with Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan A.C. as the only teams to have done it on five occasions.
In addition, the club has won 14 Goa League Champions Cups, four Rovers Cups, two Indian Super Cups, the Federation Cup in 2004, and the Durand Cup in 2006. Dempo was the first club from Goa to win the Rovers Cup. It also won the first AWES Cup in 2017 and the Goa Police Cup several times.
Dempo, along with sister Goan football clubs, Salgaocar FC, announced their withdrawal from the I-League before the start of the 2016–17 season. Following their exit from the I-League, Dempo competed in the I-League 2nd Division, the second tier of the Indian football league system. The Goa Professional League is where the Golden Eagles now compete.
2. East Bengal
The club was founded in August 1920 and became affiliated with the Indian Football Association in 1922. They got promoted to the first level of the Calcutta Football League in 1924. East Bengal won their first league title in 1942 and have won it a record 39 times since then. In 1996, the team became a founding member of the National Football League. It has won the NFL league title three times.
They’ve also won eight Federation Cups, three Super Cups, a record 29 IFA Shield trophies, and a record 16 Durand Cups. It makes them one of the best Indian football clubs of all time.
On August 1, 2020, the club celebrated its 100th anniversary. Shree Cement was revealed as the club’s new investor in September. The firm bought 76 percent of the club’s shares. It renamed the club “Sporting Club East Bengal” instead of “East Bengal Football Club”. After successful bidding, the club was promoted from the I-League to the ISL later that month.
1. Mohun Bagan
Mohun Bagan was founded in 1889 and is one of India’s and Asia’s oldest clubs. Although Mohun Bagan is a multi-sport club, football has been its main focus since its inception.
They’ve won the top-flight football league a record five times, including NFL (3) and I-League(2). They have won the Federation Cup a total of 14 times, making them India’s most successful side in the competition’s history. The Durand Cup (16 times), the IFA Shield (22 times), the Rovers Cup (14 times), and the Calcutta Football League (30 times) are just a few of the numerous trophies the club has won. Throughout its illustrious history, the club has amassed a number of minor and significant prizes.
The club gets its recognition for its IFA Shield final triumph over the East Yorkshire Regiment in 1911. Mohun Bagan were the first all-Indian team to win a championship over a British team. It was a defining moment in India’s fight for independence.
Since 2020, ATK Mohun Bagan FC has taken over Mohun Bagan’s football operations. After Kolkata Games and Sports Private Limited, the company that owns ATK FC, merged with Mohun Bagan Football Club Private Limited, the legal entity in charge of the club’s football section, by purchasing 80 percent of the latter’s shares. Mohun Bagan FC maintains Mohun Bagan Athletic Club’s current AIFF and IFA registrations, as well as the club’s rich history and culture. Hence it is one of the best Indian football clubs of all time.
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