Free-kick golazos to League Shield wins: Greg Stewart’s best moments in Indian football
Besides winning two League Shields, Stewart left an indelible mark with moments of brilliance on the field, creating memories that will be cherished for years to come.
Few players in recent Indian Super League (ISL) seasons have showcased the kind of skillful prowess seen in Greg Stewart. On Wednesday, Stewart concluded his association with Mumbai City FC, marking the end of a captivating chapter in his footballing journey in India.
Stewart made his debut in Indian football in 2021, signing up with Jamshedpur FC. Coming with experience from the Scottish and English leagues, there were heightened expectations, and Stewart met them admirably. In his first ISL season, he played a pivotal role in steering Jamshedpur FC to the League Shield before moving on to Mumbai City FC after a successful campaign.
His enchanting performances continued at Mumbai City FC, contributing significantly to the team's conquest of the League Shield. Beyond the silverware, Stewart left an indelible mark with moments of brilliance on the field, creating memories that will be cherished for years to come.
As the Scottish player bids farewell to Mumbai City FC, we recount some of his finest moments from his time in India.
First ISL goal
In his second league start for Jamshedpur FC in the 2021-22 ISL season, Stewart unveiled his remarkable talent with a dazzling solo goal against Hyderabad FC. Taking possession from a throw-in, he deftly manoeuvred past four defenders, penetrating into the box.
With finesse, Stewart executed a perfectly curved shot that found the top corner of the net. Despite Bartholomew Ogbeche later equalising, the post-match discussions predominantly centred around Stewart and the mesmerising display of his skills.
First ISL hat-trick
Just a couple of matches after his sensational performance against Hyderabad FC, Stewart showcased his prowess with a dazzling hat-trick against Odisha FC in a commanding 4-0 victory for his team. In addition to netting three goals, he played a pivotal role in setting up the opening goal for Peter Hartley.
Two of Stewart's goals on that memorable evening were absolute gems, originating from outside the penalty area, including an impressive free-kick. Completing his hat-trick, he executed another well-taken goal by making a run from near the halfway line into the box, deftly switching to his weaker foot, and calmly slotting the ball past the goalkeeper. Unsurprisingly, Stewart was rightfully awarded the Hero of the Match accolade that night.
Sublime free-kick goal vs Kerala Blasters FC
Stewart captured attention not only within India but also on the international stage following his extraordinary free-kick against Kerala Blasters FC.
With the goalkeeper positioned nearer to the far post, he skillfully curved his free-kick around the defensive wall, striking the inside of the near post before nestling into the net. Stewart sprinted towards the dugout, celebrating with a gesture that indicated his strategic planning of the set-piece.
Once again, despite Stewart's goal being nullified, the match concluded in a 1-1 draw. Nevertheless, the spotlight continued to shine on the former Rangers FC player.
Stewart showcased his proficiency in free-kicks once again in the subsequent season, delivering impressive strikes from dead ball situations. In a match against FC Goa in the 2022-23 season, he netted two more free-kicks, with both of his goals bearing a resemblance to the ones he had scored previously.
Winning the Hero of the League award & the Shield
Stewart maintained his excellent form throughout the 2021-22 season, consistently delivering standout performances and leading Jamshedpur FC's pursuit of the League Shield. He emerged as the driving force for the Men of Steel, playing a central role in every aspect of their campaign.
In the 18 league games that Stewart started during that season, he made a significant impact, registering either a goal or an assist in 13 of them. Notably, he achieved the rare feat of recording both 10 goals and 10 assists in a single season, making him only the second player in the league's history to accomplish such a feat. Recognising his exceptional contributions, Stewart was honoured with the Hero of the League accolade.
1️⃣0️⃣ goals, 1️⃣0️⃣ assists and a whole lot of Scottish magic ✨@JamshedpurFC's talisman Greg Stewart is your Hero of the League for #HeroISL 2021-22 😍💪#LetsFootball #GregStewart #JamshedpurFC pic.twitter.com/Y0rzjlWq5f— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) March 22, 2022
First-hat trick for Mumbai City FC
Stewart transferred to Mumbai City FC ahead of the 2022-23 season, with his signing generating substantial buzz and being hailed as one of the major acquisitions in the league for that campaign.
Nevertheless, the Scottish player seamlessly adapted to his new club, making an immediate impact in the 2022 edition of the Durand Cup. In the quarter-final fixture, Stewart dominated the game, scoring his inaugural hat-trick for Mumbai City FC in a thrilling 5-3 triumph. Notably, his second goal showcased his quality as he skillfully manoeuvred inside from the right, leaving four defenders unable to thwart him before slotting the ball into the bottom corner.
Throughout the tournament, Stewart stood out as the most influential player for the Islanders, contributing with six goals and four assists. His substantial input played a pivotal role in Mumbai City FC reaching the final, although they narrowly lost to Bengaluru FC.
Another League Shield triumph
Following an impressive Durand Cup campaign, Stewart continued to flourish under the guidance of former Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham in the ISL 2022-23 season. Serving as one of the creative forces for the team, he formed a vital partnership alongside Ahmed Jahouh.
While Stewart couldn't replicate his remarkable tally of 10 goals and 10 assists as he did at Jamshedpur FC, he left a significant impact in the attacking third for the Islanders. Across 20 matches, Stewart contributed with 8 goals and an equal number of assists, playing a pivotal role in Mumbai City FC securing their second League Shield.