Goals are the highlight of any football match. While goalscorers bask in glory, the process that leads up to that moment is extremely crucial, especially the final pass: the assist.

Breaking down the play, finding teammates at the drop of a shoulder, an inch-perfect cross, or even a simple pass made at the right moment are some of the key elements that make for an assist and ultimately culminate into a goal. 

Supplying assists is no less than an art and only a few have managed to master it consistently. Over the years, the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) has produced some of the best craftsmen who have been a cut above the rest and engraved their name as one of the best playmakers in the league.

On that note, let’s take a look at players who recorded the most assists in each season of the Hero ISL

2014 season - Miroslav Slepicka (FC Goa): four assists

The Czech forward was the top assist provider and the top goalscorer for the Gaurs, amassing a total of nine goal contributions in the inaugural Hero ISL season in 2014. Out of 16 matches, Slepicka made 10 appearances, with all his nine goal contributions coming in five of those 10 appearances. Overall, he was tied alongside Golden Boot winner Elano Blumer for most goal contributions (9).

2015 season - Florent Malouda (Delhi Dynamos FC) & Leonardo da Silva Moura (FC Goa): eight assists

Malouda, the former Chelsea midfielder tore apart defence with his lethal vision in his debut Hero ISL season. Operating from the middle of the park, the midfielder supplied eight assists in 16 games and was a vital cog for Delhi Dynamos FC, helping them reach their first-ever semi-finals in Hero ISL history. His versatility of playing across three different positions was a determinative factor for his side.

On the other hand, Leonardo da Silva Moura flourished under Brazilian head coach Zico. The midfielder had a sluggish start to the season, providing just one assist in the first eight games. However, the Brazilian picked up pace and set the tone for his side in the latter stages, racking up seven assists in the following 11 games. Moura stole the show at the JLN Stadium in Fatorda as the Gaurs posted their largest victory till date in a whopping 7-0 win against Mumbai City FC where the Brazilian became the first player to record a hat-trick of assists in a single Hero ISL game.

2016 season - Jonathan Lucca (FC Pune City): five assists

Lucca was the shining light in an otherwise underwhelming season for FC Pune City. In a goal-shy season for the Pune-based side – who netted just 13 goals across all games – the Brazilian recorded five assists in 14 games from a defensive midfield role, two more than all the other combined assist providers (Rahul Bheke, Pitu, and Narayan Das - one each).

2017-18 season - Marcelo Pereira (FC Pune City): seven assists

The top scorer for Delhi Dynamos FC in the previous season, Marcelinho – as he is fondly known – continued his rich vein of form with his new club FC Pune City in the 2017-18 season. Racking up seven assists and eight goals in 17 games, the Brazilian was the main jockey of the Stallions. He stamped his authority in style and became the side’s top goal contributor, leading them to their first-ever semi-final finish before being eliminated by Bengaluru FC. 

2018-19 season - Arnold Issoko (Mumbai City FC): eight assists

Playing his first and only season in the Hero ISL, Mumbai City FC’s No.7 proved to be shrewd signing. Deployed as an attacking midfielder or winger, Issoko thrived in his role, providing eight assists in 18 games besides netting three goals. The midfielder also came in clutch with two crucial assists across both legs in the semi-final against FC Goa that season.

2019-20 season - Hugo Boumous (FC Goa): 10 assists

The French-Moroccan forward made the league dance to his tunes in his third Hero ISL season. Boumous became the first midfielder to hit the double-digit mark for goals and assists, supplying 10 assists besides netting 11 goals in 15 matches. A season like no other, the 27-year-old became a quick fan favourite and etched his name into the history books as he picked up the Hero of the League award. With Boumous at the forefront of goals, FC Goa clinched their first-ever silverware, lifting the inaugural League Winners’ Shield after topping the league standings.

2020-21 season - Alberto Noguera (FC Goa): eight assists

The Spaniard replaced the outgoing Boumous and though he could not replicate the Moroccan’s numbers, he was a cut above the rest with his stats in the 2020-21 campaign. Noguera racked up eight assists – one more than the Gaurs’ former compatriot Boumous – and had a goal to his name in his debut Hero ISL season, leading the Gaurs to another semi-final finish.

2021-22 season - Greg Stewart: 10 assists (Jamshedpur FC)

The Scotsman got off to a magical start in his debut Hero ISL season, registering a staggering tally of 10 assists and 10 goals in 21 games. The creative engine of Jamshedpur FC under former head coach Owen Coyle, Stewart spilled creativity every time he stepped foot on the field. His stellar numbers saw him become just the second player to hit the double digit mark for assists after Boumous. The 32-year-old’s performances saw him being crowned as the Hero of the League while also leading the Men of Steel to their first-ever silverware as they lifted the League Winners’ Shield.

2022-23 season - Noah Sadaoui (FC Goa): eight assists 

Noah was a delight to watch on the left channel for FC Goa. The pacey Moroccan left no stone unturned when it came to linking up with his teammates and being the chief playmaker for the Gaurs. Having played all 20 games this season, the winger racked up nine assists while also netting nine goals. The 29-year-old was the joint-leading goal contributor in the league alongside ATK Mohun Bagan's Dimitri Petratos. While Noah was one of the top performers for the side, his contributions went in vain as FC Goa couldn’t qualify for the playoffs.