Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Chennaiyin FC on Sunday announced the arrival of experienced Indian defender Mandar Rao Dessai to their squad ahead of the 2024–25 season.

Dessai is regarded as one of the most successful players in the ISL, having won the ISL Cup once and the League Shield thrice. The full-back cliched the Cup and Shield with FC Goa in the 2019–20 season.

Additionally, Dessai won the ISL League Shield twice further with Mumbai City FC in the 2020–21 and 2022–23 seasons.

The 32-year-old from Goa became Chennaiyin FC’s seventh signing of the summer with a two-year contract that will keep him at the club till 2026.

The former captain of Mumbai City FC and FC Goa brings extensive experience and leadership to the team. Dessai is expected to form a formidable backline for Chennaiyin FC alongside players like Ryan Edwards, Elson Jose Dias Junior, and PC Laldinpuia.

Commenting on the signing of Dessai, head coach Owen Coyle said: “In Mandar Rao Dessai, we have got bags of experience coming in at left back. He's a wonderful defender who can honestly say he knows the Indian football scene better than most, having made more appearances than nearly any other player in the history of the league.”

Dessai began his professional career with Dempo SC in the I-League in 2013 before joining the Gaurs for the inaugural season of the ISL in 2014. Since then, he has made 155 appearances in the league, including 14 playoffs, and has also registered six goals and 12 assists.

“Chennaiyin (FC) is a champion club. They've been champion two times and have been to playoffs so many times. I've played against them before, and they always tried to have a good team. The coach also told me that I can be a good example for the youngsters and help the team grow,” Dessai said.

In 2020, Dessai created history by becoming the first player to make 100 ISL appearances. He was part of the East Bengal FC set-up last season, where he spent 1195 minutes on the field in 17 ISL games.

Dessai has also played in the midfield on several occasions during his illustrious career. His versatility and vast experience will provide tactical flexibility to the team.

He has also represented the Blue Tigers in various tournaments and was part of the Indian team that won the SAFF Championship in 2021.