Kerala Blasters FC turns 8: A look at eight best players to have played for the club in Hero ISL

Kerala Blasters FC are among the most supported teams in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) and wherever they play, they are backed by their passionate fans who always add a shade of yellow to the stands.

The Kochi-based side’s Hero ISL journey has been bittersweet as they have reached three finals in eight seasons so far but have ended on the losing side in all three of those, twice on penalties and once via a late goal.

However, the fans have made Kerala Blasters FC a special club in Indian football with the buzzing atmosphere at show especially at the Jawahahrlal Nehru stadium in Kochi.

What has also made Kerala Blasters FC among the more eye-catching clubs in Hero ISL are the large number of talented players that have worn the yellow jersey.

As the Tuskers turn eight, we take a look back at the eight best players (past and existing) to have played for the club in the Hero ISL.

Adrian Luna

The Uruguayan joined Kerala Blasters FC ahead of Hero ISL 2021-22 but has already established himself among the club greats. Categorised by many as the best-ever player to play for the Kerala Blasters, Luna has been magical on the pitch, creating and scoring goals.

With seven assists to his name, Luna is already the leading assist provider for the Blasters in Hero ISL history. But apart from his silky skills on the ball, Luna’s work rate has been praised by the likes of IM Vijayan.

The 30-year-old will hope further add to his credentials when he turns up for Kerala Blasters in the next campaign.

Sandesh Jhingan

Regarded by many as India’s best centre-back, the Chandigarh-born defender became the player he is today, in Kochi playing for Kerala Blasters FC. Having won the Emerging Player of the year in the inauigural edition of the Hero ISL, Jhingan went from strength to strength to become a mainstay in Kerala Blasters FC’s defence. Featuring at centre-back as well as right-back, Jhingan put in top-class performances for the Blasters.

He spent six seasons at the Blasters and put up 78 appearances for the side, more than any other player in the club’s history.

Bartholomew Ogbeche

The Nigerian striker spent just one season at Kerala Blasters FC having followed head coach Eelco Schattorie to the club in Hero ISL 2019-20 but made a massive impact in Kochi scoring 15 times in 16 matches.

Thanks to his exploits, Ogbeche has remained a fan favourite with the Kerala Blasters FC faithful despite him being in the Hyderabad FC side that beat the Blasters on penalties to win Hero ISL 2021-22 title.

Jessel Carneiro

The full-back, like Jhingan, impressed in his first season at the club and went on to become an integral part of the Kerala Blasters FC defence. One of the first names of the team sheet for every manager that coached him, Carneiro was handed the captain’s armband in 2020.

An injury kept him out of action for a while, but he made a strong comeback to be a big part of Ivan Vukomanovic’s plans at the club. With six assists to his name, he is joint second on the all-time assist leaderboard at Kerala Blasters FC, behind only Luna.

CK Vineeth

Having risen to prominence at Bengaluru FC, Vineeth went up a notch at Kerala Blasters FC to become one of the team’s most consistent players during his stay with the club between 2015 and 2018.

With 11 goals, he is only behind Ogbeche in the club’s all-time goalscorer leaderboard and made 43 appearances for the club. He too was a real darling of the fans and always repaid their faith on and off the pitch.

Iain Hume

The Canadian striker was part of the Kerala Blasters FC squad in the inaugural season and became an instant fan favourite thanks to his performances. After joining ATK FC the following season, Hume returned to the Blasters in Hero ISL 2017-18 and delivered some top performances.

He managed to score ten goals for the club in just 29 appearances. Hume continues to support the club despite moving away from the Hero ISL and is certainly among the top players to have played for Kerala Blasters FC.

Sahal Abdul Samad

A big fan favourite, Sahal is considered by the Blasters faithful as one of their own. His immense talent that has often reciprocated into breathtaking moments on the football pitch has made Sahal one of the most loved players not just at Kerala Blasters but even beyond.

Having made his debut in Hero ISL 2017-18 season, Sahal has been in the plans of every Kerala Blasters FC manager. With seven goals and six assists to his name, the 25-year-old is living up to his promise and had a stellar season under Vukomanovic last time out.

He is just four appearances short of matching Jhingan for most games for Kerala Blasters FC. The way he played in Hero ISL 2021-22, he could soon have all the club records to his name if he can keep up the consistency.

Jeakson Singh

One of the more underrated players to have played for Kerala Blasters FC, Jeakson has been an incredibly consistent player playing in a team that hasn’t always displayed that quality.

Having made 51 appearances for the club, Jeakson is fourth in the all-time list and like Sahal. Seems set to serve the club for a long time. A midfield general, Jeakson has made it easier for coaches to instill a more technical style of play at Blasters over the last few years. Jeakson Singh is the present and the future of Kerala Blasters FC and Vukomanovic will be delighted to have him at his disposal.

Notable mentions:

Shortlisting the top players to have played for a club like Kerala Blasters FC is never easy and there will always be some good players that don’t make the list. Apart from the eight best players that have been shortlisted, here are a few notable contributions.

Prasanth K: The 24-year-old winger has been at the club since Hero ISL 2017-18 and is the third-highest appearance maker at the club. He has also always been an integral part of whichever manager that has been at the helm at the club.

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