The Hero Indian Super League (ISL) is in its eighth season and over the years, we have seen players who have become cult heroes at their respective clubs. Someone like Sandesh Jhingan was adored by the Kerala Blasters faithful as he was one of the young players who stood out for them in the early seasons. But sadly for Indian football fans, Jhingan won’t be featuring in this edition of the Hero ISL as he has moved to Croatia in pursuit of a new challenge in his career.
Just like Jhingan, there are a few familiar faces from the previous seasons that won’t feature in the 2021-22 season. Here are the top five.
Starting with the fan favourite, Sandesh Jhingan. The centre-back has been a household name in the Hero ISL since the league’s inception. He has managed to win the Emerging Player of the Season award with Kerala Blasters in 2014, itself. He failed to get his hands on the trophy but came close both with the Blasters and ATK Mohun Bagan in the previous season.
Jhingan has been vocal about his desire to play in Europe and test his skills amongst the best. He got his dream move to the Croatian first division with HNK Sibenik as he became the first Indian to feature in the Croatian league. He sustained a calf injury just after reaching the country and since then has recovered but hasn’t made his debut yet for his new club.
Memo became a Hero ISL regular back in 2016 with the former Hero ISL club Delhi Dynamos. After 2017, Memo made a comeback to Indian football after a couple of years in his native country, Brazil. He joined the Steel Army in Jamshedpur FC and after a couple of seasons in the red of Jamshedpur, made his way to the South of India to join Chennaiyin FC. He didn’t have the best of times with Chennaiyin and it meant that just after a season with the Marina Machans, Memo decided to move. It was surprising to see no Indian club looking to rope someone of Memo’s experience this season and it might well have been his last stint with Indian football.
Spanish striker Aridane Santana made his Hero ISL debut in Odisha FC’s first season in the league back in 2019. His season under coach Josep Gombau was strong and he looked like the perfect centre forward for Indian football. Post his season, he earned a big-money move to another new side in the league, Hyderabad FC. Under yet another Spanish coach, Manolo Marquez, Santana thrived. He found the back of the net ten times for the Nizams in 18 games and almost guided them to their first-ever playoffs. After a strong season in India, Aridane has made his way back to his country Spain and currently plays for UD Logrones in the Spanish third division.
ADAM LE FONDRE
Former Premier League star Adam Le Fondre took the Hero ISL by storm in the previous season with Mumbai City FC. Under the attacking style of Sergio Lobera, Le Fondre helped Mumbai lift its first-ever Hero ISL Shield as well as the league trophy. He scored eleven goals in 23 matches for the Islanders and kept another legend Bartholomew Ogbeche on the bench for the majority of the season. Since then, Le Fondre has made his way back to the A-League with his parent club Sydney FC.
This season’s Hero ISL would surely miss the ‘Marce Magic’ it has been used to witnessing since 2016. Brazilian creative midfielder Marcelinho made his Hero ISL debut with Delhi Dynamos in 2016. Since that season, Marcelinho has had five different clubs in the league itself. The most recent stint was with the Mariners on loan from Odisha FC. He had become a mainstay in the league for many years but moved onto the Greek second division with AS Rodos.
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