East Bengal FC: Players who have played in Europe’s Top 5 leagues!
Last Updated 10:06 AM 12th May 2020 .
East Bengal Football Club has always been known as the pioneers of bringing in top foreign talents into Indian football since the 50s, starting from bringing in Masood Fakhri who was considered as one of the best players of Asia who later went on to play professional football in UK; to the signing of Majid Bishkar from Iran who was a member of the 1978 FIFA World Cup squad; and to finally bring in Johnny Acosta who was part of 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cup for Costa Rica.
We will here discuss about the foreign recruits to have played for the Red and Gold brigade, who had previously played in Europe’s Top 5 leagues: Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1,Serie A and Bundesliga.
7. Victor Perez Alonso
The latest Spanish recruit to have joined East Bengal FC in February 2020, Victor Perez Alonso had previously plied his trade in the Spanish top division back in 2012-15 with teams like Real Valladolid and Levante.
Victor Perez has made 49 appearances in the Spanish top flight before moving on to other leagues and finally joining East Bengal FC in the I-League where he made 4 appearances scoring two goals, both from penalties.
6. Marti Crespi
The centre-back from Spain who joined at the beginning of the 2019/20 season, replacing Costa Rican World Cup star Johnny Acosta, Marti Crespi Pascual had previously played in the Spanish top division – La Liga with RCD Mallorca back in 2010-12.
Marti Crespi has made a total of 16 appearances for East Bengal FC in all competitions which includes 8 in the I-League where he scored his solitary goal against TRAU FC in the dying minutes to grab all points for the Red and Gold brigade.
Crespi was however released by the team management for his poor performance midway into the I-League campaign.
5. Antonio Dovale
Antonio Rodriguez Dovale was the fifth foreigner to have joined the Red and Gold brigade who had previously played in Europe’s top 5 leagues. Dovale had played in La Liga in 2012-14 with Celta Vigo, making 26 appearances in the Spanish top division.
Dovale joined East Bengal in January 2019 and was an important member of the squad that finished runner’s up in the 2018/19 I-League.
Dovale made 11 appearances for East Bengal FC in the I-League before returning back to Nea Salamina FC, from where he came in on loan for the season.
4. Borja Gomez Perez
The former Granada CF centre-back Borja Gomez Perez joined East Bengal FC in 2018/19 season. He had played in the La Liga back in 2011-13 making 31 appearances in the Spanish top-flight.
Borja Gomez was always known for his hard tackling and his leadership qualities on field. Nicknamed “senapati” by the East Bengal fans, Borja was an important member in the 2018/19 East Bengal FC squad that finished runner’s up in the I-League.
Borja made 27 appearances for East Bengal FC in all competitions scoring 2 goals for the team. He suffered a knee injury in the Calcutta Football League game against Mohammedan Sporting in the 2019/20 season which ruled him out for the entire season and he was eventually released by the team management.
3. Bernard Mendy
One of the most impressive signings in the history of East Bengal FC was made in the 2015-16 season when the Red and Gold team management roped in former French international and Paris Saint-Germain defender Bernard Mendy.
Bernard Mendy has played for PSG for 7 seasons between 2000-2008, making 238 appearances for the French club and scoring 10 goals. He was part of the cult PSG 2001/02 side which featured legends like Ronaldinho, Mikel Arteta, Nicholas Anelka, Mauricio Pochettino, Jay-Jay Okocha etc.
Mendy had also played in the English Premier League with Bolton Wanderers (2002-03) and Hull City (2008-10), making a total of 49 appearances in the English top flight scoring twice.
The french man joined East Bengal FC at the fag end of his career and scored on his debut against Aizawl FC at Barasat in the I-League. He made a total of 12 appearances for the club scoring twice and would certainly be regarded as one of the biggest stars to have played for East Bengal FC.
2. Steve Prindiville
In 1991, three Englishmen joined East Bengal FC out of which was former Leicester City FC left-back Steven Allan Prindiville, who was part of the Foxes squad in the 1986/87 English Division One, the topmost flight of English football before the Premier League started in 1992.
Steve Prindiville didn’t play any match in the Division One and mostly featured in the Central League games for the Foxes team.
Prindiville was used as a left-back by then East Bengal FC coach Syed Nayeemuddin and was part of the 1991 CFL winning squad that won the league without conceding a single goal.
He was also part of the 1991/92 Asian Cup Winners Cup squad that reached the quarter finals losing out to eventual champions Nissan FC of Japan.
1. John Devine
The Arsenal FC and Northern Ireland star who played for the London club between 1978-83, joined East Bengal FC in 1987 for a single season, thus becoming the first European to play for the club and also the first ever player to join who have played in Europe’s Top 5 leagues.
John Devine was a right-back in nature and has made 112 appearances for Arsenal FC before moving on to Norwich City FC again in the English Division One where he played two seasons making 69 appearances, scoring thrice.
Devine then moved on to Stoke City and then came to India to play for East Bengal FC where he stayed for a very short stint as the club could not afford his wages and he returned back to Europe.
John Devine was part of the CFL winning squad for the Red and Gold brigade. He also played in the Sikkim Gold Cup, Rovers Cup and IFA Shield for East Bengal FC before returning back to Europe.
There have been many legends who have donned the Red and Gold kit in the 100 years of glorious history but these seven names came in with a reputation of playing in Europe’s Top 5 leagues before joining East Bengal FC.