5 ISL signings that should have never taken place
Roberto Carlos played only three matches for Delhi Dynamos FC|
The Indian Super League has been a favoured destination for many European and South American footballers since its inception back in 2014, with players like Marco Materazzi and Alessandro Del Piero gracing the league. In spite of high profile signings, there have been few that have backfired badly.
A World Cup winner and one of the greatest full-backs to ever play the game, it was a dream come true for Indian football fans to watch Roberto Carlos in action. While many thought the speedy footballer would replicate the magic and sent them into seventh-heaven, but what he actually wasn't even in the realm of magic. Instead, the player-cum-coach featured in just three matches for the Delhi Dynamos FC, with his fitness getting the better of him as the Brazilian looked ill-at-ease among players much younger than him. But, that’s not even the worst part!
Just before the semi-final against FC Goa during the 2015 Indian Super League, Roberto informed that he would not return to India for a second season. As a matter of fact, the former Real Madrid player, along with other Brazilian players from the squad was in a state of conflict of interest with the management with their payment structure. As per sources, there was confusion among the players and coach between net and gross wages. That meant Roberto’s Carlos’ stint in Indian football was cut short and it felt like a story that should have never happened.
Once a potent force in East Bengal’s line-up, Cavin Lobo was a crafty playmaker, known for his ability to outwit rival defenders often and fire long-range screamers with his gem of a left foot. The Goa-based footballer was roped in by ATK in the first season of the Indian Super League on loan. It was in his debut match that he scored two goals against FC Goa, following which his form dipped drastically and Lobo was benched for most of the season. In anticipation of a change in fortunes, Lobo shifted to Kerala Blasters FC the next season, but the story was a similar one. He wowed and shocked the league for one match, where he scored once and assisted another before fading away once again.
Lack of playing time and persistent injuries restricted Lobo to progress further, even though he had played eight International matches by the end of 2016. His return to ATK in the 2018-19 ISL season was even more painful, with him playing just one match - 11 minutes of action - that was all. He had no option but to make a return to the I-League, which he did, but he was not the same as before. In the previous season, Lobo represented Punjab FC, with the sting almost disappearing from his game, an unfortunate sight for the footballer.
No doubt he was one of the biggest signings in the second edition of the Indian Super League, if not the biggest. Fresh from his exploits in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Postiga was destined to reach great heights in Indian football. His debut in the inaugural match of the season was eventful, even though it was a forgettable one for him. The Portuguese scored a couple of goals but suffered a lethal injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season. ATK (Atletico de Kolkata back then) were kicking themselves at that point of time, having built the team around the marquee player.
He did come back for a second year, in 2016, but that wasn’t fruitful either, with him featuring in 11 matches and scoring just two goals with three assists to his name. It was such an embarrassing moment for him when the striker was substituted in ISL final, following which the Kolkata-based team won the Indian Super League. That was, unfortunately, Helder Postiga’s last game as a professional footballer. The prolific striker deserved a better farewell after all his heroics in Europe earlier in his career.
There has been a trend of bringing in successful I-League players by ISL sides ever since the latter was created. While the positive side of playing alongside top-quality players outweighs the negatives, yet the latter cannot be ignored with Jobby Justin a key example. The striker fared brilliantly with the Red and Gold brigade in the 2018-19 editions, having struck nine goals and helped them finish as the runners-up. Lucrative offers are hard to put down and subsequently, he was shipped to ISL outfits ATK, but there begins a sad story.
ATK had roped in two specialist strikers in the form of Roy Krishna and David Williams, a duo that had tasted success in the A-League over the last few years. Jobby had no option but to play second fiddle to much more experienced foreigners and was used as a bench warmer for most of the season. Even though his side won the Indian Super League title, for a record third time, he only had 1 goal and an assist added to his tally in 10 matches, having made only three starts in the entire league. Indeed a sorry state of affairs for a footballer who was once deemed as a future star of Indian football.
The Spanish defender was already 36 years old the time he was roped in by Northeast United FC as the marquee player for the inaugural season. A successful player during his prime, having been a part of Spain’s World Cup-winning squad in 2010. Apparently, it was a big signing for the Indian club, but the Capdevila’s tiring legs had a different tale to tell altogether. Even though he started in 12 matches for the Highlanders, he was hardly effective and could not inspire his team to a top-four finish.
At 36, the Spaniard had lost his speed and it meant that he was far too slow to play as a left-back, with other players outrunning him throughout. Not only that, but Capdevila also struggled to create or score goals with him ending the 12 matches he played without a single goal-contribution. The then 36-year-old made a total of nine blocks in the season, while Northeast United FC finished at the bottom of the league table with just three wins from 14 matches. For obvious reasons, he was not retained for a second spell, with him playing the last matches of his professional career in Belgium and Andorra.