Some players will look to wind down their footballing careers across the Atlantic and in the MLS with a fairly large payday.

The likes of David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane, Kaka, Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are just some of football’s retired stars that tried their luck Stateside once their playing days were coming to an end.

The MLS still attracts a number of players now, with the lure of living in America possibly playing a major influence for them, including Sebastian Giovinco (yes, he plays for Toronto who are in Canada but play in the American league – go figure), David Villa, Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

However, there are a number of unlikely men that had decided to head to India (of all places) to see out their final years as a footballer.

The South Asian country is not particularly known for its football, with cricket considered to be the national sport. However, they wanted to change that and created the Indian Super League in 2013 and tried to attract stars of the game to help build their own profile.

Players such as Andre Bikey, Ryan Taylor and Tim Cahill are currently plying their trade in India, yet it has included the likes of Michael Chopra, Jermaine Pennant, Didier Zokora, Florent Malouda, Eric Djemba-Djemba, Andre Santos, Aaron Hughes, Joan Capdevila, Luis Garcia, Adrian Mutu, Diego Forlan and Lucio in teams before – with the majority still playing at the tender stages of their careers.

Steve Coppell, David James and John Gregory are all managing sides in the league.

However, it is the names of players who have already gone onto retire from the game after a stint in India that will surprise many.

Jussi Jaaskelainen – Atletico de Kolkata

Jaaskelainen ATK

The former Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United goalkeeper decided to make a switch to the Indian side when he was 42-years-old and made just the one appearance, a goalless draw. He has since become a coach for Wrexham, who play their football in the National League.

Roberto Carlos – Delhi Dynamos (2015)

Roberto Carlos Delhi
Roberto Carlos

The former Real Madrid legend decided to come out of retirement and play a handful of games for the Delhi outfit.

Elano – Chennaiyin (2014-15)

Elano Chennaiyin

Once of Manchester City, the Brazilian spent two spells with the Indian outfit, with time back at Santos wedged in between.

Wes Brown – Kerala Blasters (2017-18)

Wes Brown Kerala
Wes Brown

A man known synonymously with Manchester United, he joined the Blasters following spells with Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers, where he made a handful of appearances under then-manager Rene Meulensteen.

Bernard Mendy – (Chennayin and East Bengal between 2014 – 2017)

Bernard Mendy Chennaiyin
Bernard Mendy

The right-back, who was once of Paris Saint-Germain and Bolton Wanderers, headed to the Indian Super League and was one of the first picks when the competition first started. During his time in southern Asia, he featured for Chennaiyin on three separate occasions and East Bengal.

David Trezeguet – FC Pune City (2014)

David Trezeguet Pune
David Trezeguet

The once prolific Juventus hitman went on somewhat of a journey once his career at the Old Lady finished and ended up playing in the Indian Super League for a year, where he featured just a handful of times.

Mikael Silvestre – Chennaiyin (2014)

Mikael Silvestre Chennaiyin
Mikael Silvestre

Another former Manchester United enforcer that decided to call time on his playing career once he had a go in India. The former France international played out just one season before deciding to explore other options.

Nicolas Anelka – Mumbai City (2015)

Nicolas Anelka Mumbai
Nicolas Anelka

The former Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City, Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea, Shanghai Shenhua and West Bromwich Albion forward added Indian outfit Mumbai to his long list of clubs.

The striker, who had also held a player-manager role with the club lasted just one year with the team, probably as he was sulking about not getting a move to Algeria that had been on the cards.

Robert Pires – Goa (2014 – 2015)

Robert Pires Goa
Robert Pires

Arsenal legend Pires decided to come out of retirement as he looked to help launch the Indian Super League. He spent the inaugural year of the competition with Goa before deciding to call time on his career – for the second time.

Alessandro Del Piero – Delhi Dynamos (2014)

Alessandro Del Piero Delhi
Alessandro Del Piero

Juventus and Italy legend Alessandro Del Piero first tried his hand in Australia and the A-League when he joined Sydney FC.

However, in 2014 he made a switch to the Indian Super League and featured a handful of times for the Delhi Dynamos, in what was a stellar career.

Marco Materazzi – Chennaiyin (2014 – 2016)

Marco Materazzi Chennaiyin
Marco Materazzi

The Italian enforcer spent two years in the Indian Super League with Chennaiyin before deciding to retire from the game. A great footballer in his own right, he is probably mainly remembered for the infamous headbutt he received from Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 World Cup Final, a match in which he scored in.

Alessandro Nesta – Chennaiyin (2014)

Alessandro Nesta Chennaiyin
Alessandro Nesta

Another Italian enforcer that had legendary status within the Serie A game. Nesta made the switch to Chennaiyin in 2014 after a stint for Montreal Impact, however, he only featured a handful of times.

John Arne Riise – Chennaiyin (2016)

John Arne Riise Chennaiyin
John Arne Riise

The former Liverpool and Fulham left-back headed to India for two spells during the latter stages of his career, once with the Dynamos in 2015, before teaming up with Chennaiyin in 2016 on a two-month deal.

Helder Postiga – Atletico De Kolkata (2016)

Helder Postiga ATK
Helder Postiga

The former Tottenham Hotspur striker joined the club as their marquee player at the young age of 32, however, he was impacted by a number of injuries during his two spells at the outfit.

Robbie Keane – Atletico de Kolkata (2017 – 2018)

Robbie Keane ATK
Robbie Keane

The former Republic of Ireland forward must have felt he had finally played for the club he dreamed about as a boy!

Having turned out for the likes of Inter Milan, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Leeds United, Celtic, West Ham United and LA Galaxy, as well as others, he joined up with Teddy Sheringham at ATK.

However, after a stint as player-manager himself, Keane decided to call it a day earlier this year.

Carlos Marchena – Kerala Blasters (2015)

Carlos Marchena Kerala
Carlos Marchena

World Cup-winning centre-back Marchena ended his successful career in Spain with a move to the Indian Super League.

However, his time in India did not last very long as he decided to make a return to Spain seeking personal reasons.

Freddie Ljungberg – Mumbai City (2014)

Freddie Ljungberg Mumbai
Freddie Ljungberg

The Arsenal and Sweden legend turned out for Mumbai to help launch the inaugural Indian Super League. He became the club’s marquee signing for the season, although he only played four matches for them before heading back to London.

Dimitar Berbatov – Kerala Blasters (2017 – 2018)

Dimitar Berbatov Kerala
Dimitar Berbatov

The former Tottenham, Manchester United and Fulham front-man was another man who decided to head to the Indian Super League to finish his footballing career. He spent just one season with the Kerala Blasters before hanging up his boots.

Experienced freelance sports journalist that is looking to help take SportsGrape to the next level and become the number one student sports platform in the UK! He has worked with a number of publications and continues to do so. If he is not writing about sport, then you can be sure he will be watching it, whether it be live in person or on the TV.


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