TOP 5: Foreign defenders to play for East Bengal FC!
Last Updated 3:15 PM 12th June 2020 .
East Bengal Football Club has been one of the most glorious sporting institutions of the country since it’s inception a century back. The club has been a hallmark of fame and glory for millions of fans across the world, with numerous superstars of Indian football donning the Red and Gold kit through the various generations, enthralling the crowd with joy and emotions.
After the independence of India in 1947, the influx of foreign players into Indian football scenario increased and today they are the most important part of team building. East Bengal FC too have been one of the leading names to bring in top foreign players into Indian football, some of them becoming superstars and legends in India.
Today we shall talk about the top 5 foreign defenders who have played for East Bengal FC.
5. Johnny Acosta
One of the biggest names to have donned the Red and Gold kit has been the Costa Rican World Cup star Johnny Acosta, who joined East Bengal FC in 2018, just months after playing in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia against the likes of Brazil and Serbia.
34 year old Johnny Acosta debuted against Mohun Bagan in the CFL, scoring on his debut in a 2-2 stalemate in the Kolkata Derby. However, he took some time to settle into Indian Football but once he did, he showed his class and temperament which was never seen before by East Bengal fans. Johnny Acosta was one of the most crucial members of the 2018/19 I-League campaign in which East Bengal FC finished runner’s up by a single point.
He left the club after the season and was once again brought back halfway in the 2019/20 season and became an instrumental figure on his first game after returning to secure an away victory against Real Kashmir FC. This was the only game he played as the league got cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation.
Johnny Acosta would forever remain as a cult figure among the Red and Gold faithfuls and would always be regarded as one of the bests to have played for the club.
4. Uga Okpara
One of the leading names from African football to have played for East Bengal FC was Nigerian defender Uga Okpara who joined the Red and Gold brigade in 2009 and played for 5 seasons and establishing his name as one of the legends of East Bengal FC.
Uga Okpara had been one of the top defenders in Nigeria, playing for one of the top teams Enyimba FC from 2002 to 2009 before joining East Bengal FC. He was also twice the part of CAF Champions League winning teams for Enyimba FC in 2003 and 2004 and CAF Super Cup champion teams of 2004 and 2005!
Uga Okpara in his 5 seasons with East Bengal FC has won the Federation Cup thrice (2009, 2010 and 2012), the Super Cup (2011), the IFA Shield (2011), the CFL four times (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) and was also one of the instrumental figure in the 2013 AFC Cup campaign where East Bengal FC reached the Semi Final loosing out to eventual champions Kuwait SC.
The tall and sturdy Uga Okpara will always be regarded as one of the greats for East Bengal FC and his iconic screams to organise the defence lines that echoed all over the Salt Lake Stadium will be remembered by the fans forever.
3. Jackson Egypong
In 1998 East Bengal FC recruited three Ghanians that would completely change their fortunes for the next few years. One of them was a tall, lanky and strong centre-back Jackson Egypong – who would continue to play for the Red and Gold brigade for three seasons and establish himself as one of the greats to wear the Red and Gold kit.
Jackson became part of the backline that won quite a few trophies including East Bengal FC’s first National Football League title in 2000/01 season. The 2000/01 backline still holds the record for conceding the least number of goals (just 9 goals conceded) in a National Football League or I-League campaign as they went on to lift the title.
The fans would also remember his goal against Mohun Bagan in the famous 3-0 derby where Falguni Dutta scored a brace, after the rivals had already become NFL champions.
Jackson Egypong will forever be etched as one of the best ever to have played for the club.
2. Sammy Omollo
The Kenyan international and former captain Sammy Omollo joined East Bengal FC in 1996, playing two seasons with the club and being regarded as one of the greatest players to have played in India.
Omollo was brought in by East Bengal FC management ahead of the first edition of the National Football League in 1996. He was part of the NFL runner’s up team of 1997/98.
Omollo had some memorable performances in his tenure with the Red and Gold brigade, most famously against Mohun Bagan in the “Diamond Demolition” Derby in 1997 Federation Cup Semi Final where an underdog East Bengal FC thrashed a strong Mohun Bagan team by 4-1 in front on 1,31,000+ fans at the Salt Lake Stadium.
In another memorable win against Verdy Kawasaki of Japan in the Asian Cup Winners Cup game in 1997, Omollo scored the solitary goal to script a famous win against the Japanese champions.
1. Suley Musah
Perhaps the most decorated foreign player in Indian football history, Ghanian Suley Musah will always be regarded as one of the greatest ever to have donned the Red and Gold shirt.
Joining alongside compatriots Jackson Egypong and Emmanuel Opoku in 1998, Suley Musah went on to play for the Red and Gold brigade for 7 seasons till 2004/05 and then once again coming back in 2008 to retire from professional football wearing the East Bengal colours.
In his 8 seasons with East Bengal FC, Musah has won a total of 19 trophies including three National Football League titles (2000/01, 2002/03 and 2003/04), ASEAN Cup (2003), San Miguel International Cup (2004), three IFA Shield titles (2000, 2001 and 2002), two Durand Cup titles (2002 and 2004) and six CFL titles (98, 99, 00, 02, 03 and 04).
Musah was the captain of the historic ASEAN Cup winning East Bengal FC team. He is still one of the most loved figures by the fans. His performance, dedication and passion for the Red and Gold colours has certainly made him one of the legends of East Bengal FC.