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When Kerala Blasters reached their first ISL final in 2014 - Who were the players and where are they now?

06:45 GMT+3 18/03/2022
Penn Orji of Kerala Blasters FC in action during ISL match against Mumbai City FC
Kerala Blasters lost to ATK FC in the final of the inaugural season of the ISL...

Kerala Blasters are all set to feature in their third Indian Super League (ISL) final after overcoming Jamshedpur FC in the semi-final play-off. They are yet to win the trophy though and would be looking to go one better.

The first time the Blasters reached the final was all the way back in 2014, during the inaugural season of the ISL.

Under the tutelage of David James, Kerala Blasters qualified for the play-offs by finishing fourth in the league stage and then beat Chennaiyin FC 4-3 on aggregate to reach the final.

The South Indian outfit were up against ATK FC in the final. They had several goal-scoring opportunities in the game but failed to convert them and in the end, a late injury-time strike by Mohammed Rafique helped ATK FC pip Blasters 1-0 to bag the first-ever ISL title.

Here, we take a look at the players who donned the Kerala Blasters shirt in the ISL 2014 final and where they are now.

  • David James Kerala Blasters

    David James - GK

    The former England international goalkeeper was appointed as the player-cum-manager of the Kerala Blasters side in the inaugural edition of the ISL. James led the team to the final, while appearing in 12 matches for the Yellow Army in the competition. After 2014, he retired from professional football. In January 2018, he came back to India and joined Kerala as their full-time head coach replacing Rene Muelensteen at the helm. He was sacked from his position in the subsequent campaign midway into the season. The Englishman currently works as a football pundit.

  • Nirmal Chettri Zequinha NorthEast United FC ATK ISL 4 2017/2018

    Nirmal Chettri - RB

    The Sikkimese defender began his professional career at Air India and then played for clubs like East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Mohammedan Sporting and Dempo. In the ISL he played for Kerala Blasters, NorthEast United and FC Goa. Chettri last played for Punjab FC in the 2019/20 I-League campaign.

  • Sandesh Jhingan Kerala Blasters FC Delhi Dynamos FC ISL season 3 2016

    Sandesh Jhingan - CB

    The India international defender made his senior professional debut in 2011 at Bhaichung Bhutia-owned United Sikkim club. In the inaugural season of the ISL, he was picked by Kerala Blasters and Jhingan went on to play for the club until 2020. Ahead of the 2020/21 season, he moved to ATK Mohun Bagan where he is currently playing.

    Other than Blasters and ATK Mohun Bagan, Jhingan played for Bengaluru FC, Sporting Clube de Goa and in 2021, he briefly joined Croatian top division club HNK Sibenik. But he returned to India after just five months and rejoined the Green and Maroons.

  • Colin Falvey, Kerala Blasters, Mumbai City, Nicolas Anelka

    Colin Falvey - CB

    The Irish defender joined Kerala Blasters from USL Championship side Charleston Battery on loan in 2014. Falvey spent the majority of his career playing in the United States. In 2019, he retired from professional football and is currently working as an assistant manager at US second division side Sacramento Republic FC.

  • Saumik Dey Atletico de Kolkata Kerala Blasters FC ISL season 2 13102015

    Saumik Dey - LB

    The former East Bengal full-back played for Kerala Blasters in the first two seasons of the ISL. Dey retired from professional football after the 2016/17 season. After retirement, he worked as a head coach at West Bengal-based club NBP Rainbow AC during the 2019/20 season.

  • Mehtab Hossain Kerala Blasters FC Mumbai City FC ISL season 3 2016

    Mehtab Hossain - DM

    The former Mohun Bagan and East Bengal star represented Kerala Blasters in the first three seasons of the ISL. He later played for Jamshedpur FC and retired from professional football in 2019 after spending a season at Mohun Bagan. In 2021, Hossain came back from retirement and joined Madhya Pradesh-based club Madan Maharaj FC as a player-cum-mentor.

  • Victor Pulga, Kerala Blasters

    Victor Pulga - AM

    The Spanish midfielder joined Kerala Blasters from Greek second division side Kallithea. He played for Blasters in the first two seasons of ISL and then returned to the club in 2018 and played for one more season before retiring from professional football.

    In the 2019/20 season, Pulga returned to India as Antonio Iriondo’s assistant coach at Jamshedpur FC. In the 2021/22 season, Pulga joined Mario Rivera’s coaching staff as an assistant at East Bengal.

  • Ishfaq Ahmed Kerala Blasters FC Mumbai City FC ISL season 2 10102015

    Ishfaq Ahmed - RW

    The former East Bengal and Mohun Bagan midfielder, who also played for clubs like Dempo and Salgaocar, joined Kerala Blasters in 2014 and played for the club until 2017 after which he retired from professional football.

    While being in Kerala, he served the club as a player-cum-assistant manager in 2017. In 2017, after retirement, Ahmed moved to Jamshedpur FC as an assistant coach under Steve Coppell. In 2019, he returned to Kerala Blasters as an assistant coach and has so far worked under head coaches like Eelco Schattorie, Kibu Vicuna and Ivan Vukomanovic. He was also in charge of the team as their interim head coach in the 2020/21 season after Kibu Vicuna parted ways towards the end of the campaign.

  • Stephen Pearson of Kerala Blasters FC celebrates goal during ISL semi final match against Chennaiyin FC

    Stephen Pearson - LW

    The Scottish midfielder who had the experience of playing for clubs like Motherwell, Celtic and Stoke City, joined Kerala Blasters in 2014 and played for a season at the club. In 2016, he returned to India and joined ATK FC in the third season of the league. Pearson retired from professional football in 2017 after spending a season at his boyhood club Motherwell.

  • Iain Hume Kerala Blasters FC Delhi Dynamos FC ISL 4 2017/2018

    Iain Hume - FW

    The Canadian international was a popular figure in the ISL during the first few seasons. Iain Hume played at Kerala Blasters in the first season and then went to ATK where he played the next two years. Ahead of the 2017/18 campaign, Hume returned to Kerala for one more season before joining FC Pune City in 2018. After an injury-laden campaign at Pune, he retired from professional football. He was seen as a TV pundit in ISL after his retirement.

  • Michael Chopra Kerala Blasters FC Mumbai City FC ISL season 3 2016

    Michael Chopra - FW

    The former Sunderland and Newcastle United forward played at Kerala Blasters for two seasons (2014 and 2016). After his second stint with the Yellow Army in 2016, Chopra announced his retirement from professional football.

    Post-retirement, the Indian-origin footballer worked as a football agent and also pursued the first level of coaching license in India, the AIFF D license in 2017.

  • Penn Orji of Kerala Blasters FC celebrates goal during ISL match against Delhi Dynamos FC

    Penn Orji - Sub

    The former East Bengal and JCT attacking midfielder played for Kerala Blasters during the 2014 ISL season. He also played for clubs like Shillong Lajong, Mohammedan Sporting and Vasco. He was last seen playing in the Nigerian second division league in 2020.

  • Sushanth Mathew - Sub

    The former Mahindra United and East Bengal midfielder played just one season at Kerala Blasters in 2014. He later played for Gokulam Kerala FC in the I-League in 2017. In 2019, he announced his retirement from professional football.