Paying Dividends: Indian footballers who had a breakthrough Hero ISL 2021-22 season

A thrilling season of the Hero ISL 2021-22 came to an end as Hyderabad FC, clinched the trophy in spectacular fashion with much aplomb, defeating Kerala Blasters FC in the summit clash. Meanwhile, Jamshedpur FC showed immense consistency and claimed the League Winners’ Shield.

While it was a season of firsts in the roll of honour, several Indian players who were not heavily backed to draw attention, managed to punch above their weight. In the grandest stage of all in Indian football, they made their opportunities count and set the tone for the rest of their career.

Here are the Indian footballers who had a breakthrough season in Hero ISL 2021-22:

Ruivah Hormipam (Kerala Blasters FC)

The youngster has been a great revelation for Kerala Blasters FC with his instant impact midway in the Hero ISL 2021-22 season, which stamped a permanent authority in the playing XI for the rest of the season. Since making his debut against Mumbai City FC, the Blasters have lost only two games in the league stage, which also includes a 5-match unbeaten run in the time frame.

Ivan Vukomanovic’s faith in the youngster not only paid off, but also provided him the flexibility to field an extra foreigner in the attacking zone, striking the perfect balance in the squad. Despite his valiant efforts in the playoffs and the final, the Blasters failed to lift the trophy. With 67 clearances, 57 tackles, 31 interceptions, and 11 blocks throughout the season, Hormipam’s career has taken off in full swing.

Ritwik Kumar Das (Jamshedpur FC)

With players like Chima Chukwu and Greg Stewart gliding past the opponents' defence, young Ritwik Kumar Das still managed to make his presence felt, especially in the business end of the competition - a phase when Jamshedpur FC’s marathon 7-run winning streak stormed them to a League Winners’ Shield triumph.

In the last six of the above-mentioned matches, Das scored four times and assisted once, proving himself to be a real fox-in-the-box when it mattered the most for the Men of Steel. The speedy winger is a bright prospect for the ISL outfit. With age on his side, Jamshedpur FC will definitely like to hold on to Das’ service as he approaches his prime.

Hira Mondal (SC East Bengal)

Although a forgetful season for SC East Bengal, Mondal proved how impactful of a player he has been in the Hero ISL 2021-22 season. Having played 16 matches, the SC East Bengal player always provided stability in the defence. The constant leakage of goals was already a nightmarish issue for the side, yet, Mondal managed to tape it to a certain extent.

Throughout his first tenure in the elite league, the defender registered 57 clearances, 49 tackles, 35 blocks, and 29 interceptions. The herculean effort earned him plaudits from all corners, making him a sensation, even though his team ended up on the losing side more often than not. Hopefully, he will be back again next season, with a better display!

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Suhair VP (NorthEast United FC)

Not a rookie as compared to the others in the list, but the crafty forward was already knocking on the door. Suhair VP eventually unleashed his full potential in the the Hero ISL 2021-22 season. In only his second stint with the Highlanders, the footballer netted four times and assisted twice. He was a constant menace in the opposition box and often unsettled the defence with trickery.

However, his heroics did not materialise into a top-our finish, as NorthEast United FC fell short by quite some distance. That did not dent Suhair’s passage to the Indian national football team for the first time in his career, who took 47 shots and produced 33 crosses in the domestic season. With still a long way to go, this season would be solely considered as the turning point in his career.

Roshan Naorem Singh (Bengaluru FC)

No footballer had quite a remarkable debut ISL season like Roshan Naorem Singh, who despite being one of the best players in the league, failed to make the top-four cut. The footballer was a livewire along the sidelines, often making lethal runs to hurl in crosses into the box besides taking some sensational free-kicks. Singh made 77 tackles, 40 clearances, 37 blocks, and 27 interceptions in the entire tournament.

Apart from his defensive duties, the Bengaluru FC star has scored once and assisted seven times (highest by any Indian footballer in the Hero ISL 2021-22). His exploits earned him a national call-up and subsequently debuted for the Blue Tigers in an international friendly, following the conclusion of the Hero ISL 2021-22.

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