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Indian Football- Most Succesful Clubs of the Subcontinent

By Surya Solanki



Players and staff of India's East Bengal FC pose with their trophy after winning the 34th Federation Cup final football match against Dempo SC at Kanchenjungha Stadium in Siliguri, India on September 30,2012
Players and staff of India's East Bengal FC pose with their trophy after winning the 34th Federation Cup final football match against Dempo SC at Kanchenjungha Stadium in Siliguri, India on September 30,2012

Come Sunday and Indian football will see old foes East Bengal and Mohun Bagan lock horns to redefine what can be described as the most storied rivalry in the country’s sporting history.

However, with the most highly-anticipated clash of the football calendar too on the horizon, the intriguing battle for Indian football supremacy is likely to be lost in the headlines reserved for the Manchester Derby.

Nonetheless, a small lot of domestic and state football fans will still proclaim their love and allegiance towards either of East Bengal or Mohun Bagan, two clubs often considered as the most iconic clubs of Asian football.

Thus, in a build-up to the Kolkata Derby, here is Football.com’s list of three of the most successful and valuable clubs of India.

1. East Bengal

Regarded as arguably the most valuable club that the Indian football fans have ever come across, East Bengal are the current holders of Federation Cup and Indian Super Cup.

Formed in 1920 as East Bengal Club, the historic side is tied for the longest period of top-division participation in the country and have competed a record ten times in the AFC.

Moreover, the club’s name was printed in the illustrious history books when it became the first side from India to play in an Asian competition.

Club’s alumni include various current and former Indian national team stars like Subhas Bhowmick , Bhaichung Bhutia , Sunil Chettri , Syed Naimuddin , Peter Thangaraj , Manoranjan Bhattacharya. 

Trivia: Although a prestigious Indian club, generally the migrants of Bangladesh are the loyal fans of the team (via Sportskeeda).

2. Dempo S.C.

Although, not a historically successful club, Dempo S.C. are currently the reigning champions of India's prime domestic league, the I-League, and have triumphed the competition three times over the past five years.

Formed in 1968, Dempo have enjoyed instrumental success over the past two to three decades and have also represented Indian football at the international stage, having participated in the Champions League qualifiers.

Owned and sponsored by the Dempo group of companies, the club boasts the likes of Climax Lawrence, Clifford Miranda, Mahesh Gawli and Ranty Martins Soleye as its alumni and are currently table toppers of the 2012-13 I-League with 22 points from 9 games.

Trivia: Dempo created history by becoming the first Indian team to reach the semi-finals of the AFC Cup when the defeated Singapore’s Home United 4-3 in 2008.

3. Mohun Bagan

 Established in 1889, Mohun Bagan, like their derby counterparts East Bengal, are one of the biggest and oldest clubs of Asian football.

Having won all the trophies of national importance, including three league titles between 1997 and 2002, Bagan were billed as the National Club of India by the late Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.

Moreover, Bagan also become a symbol of Indian nationality during the country’s fight for independence against the Great Britain during the 20thcentury and was the first ever side to beat a European team when they defeated England’s East Yorkshire Regiment 2-1 in 1911.

Players who have donned the famous jersey of the club include Goshto Pal, Chuni Goswami, and Bhaichung Bhutia

Trivia: Although rivals, both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are owned by the same corporate house (United Breweries Group).