Playing for a well known European club at some point of their footballing career is a dream every footballer around the world has. Not only footballers, even fans wish to see their national heroes don the jerseys of some of the very best clubs in the world.
For Indian players and fans, this is a dream yet to turn into a reality. While some Indian players have managed to play in European leagues, like Bhaichung Bhutia for Bury and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu for Stabaek, none so far have made it to an elite club.
However, here are some Indian players who could have made it into one of the top European clubs had they not rejected their offers.
3. Chuni Goswami - Tottenham Hotspur
The former Indian international striker was the captain of the team that won a historic Gold medal at the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta and Silver at the 1964 Asia Cup in Tel Aviv.
Chuni Goswami later revealed that he was approached by English club Tottenham Hotspur, asking him to appear for a trial at the club. The then Mohun Bagan captain refused to go.
Goswami liked the fan support at Bagan. Goswami added that Dhiren-da, the former administrator of Mohun Bagan asked him "What will you do there, staying all alone?”.
2. Talimeren Ao - Arsenal
Considered to be one of the greatest footballers from the Naga community, Ao was the captain of the first ever Indian national football team formed after Independence.
The gifted defender led India at the 1948 London Olympics. Talimeren Ao was offered a one-year contract by English club Arsenal FC, but he chose to reject it and instead decided to study medicine.
1. Mohammed Salim - Celtic
Who else but Mohammed Salim could have made it to the top of our list. The Indian forward is still considered to be one of the greatest the nation ever had.
In 1936, Salim was trialled by Scottish Giants Celtic FC. He appeared in a couple of "alliance matches" for Celtic against Hamilton Accies and Galston, and was so impressive that he ruled the headlines of all major Scottish newspapers following the matches.
Celtic offered Salim a first-team contract, but he was homesick and refused. The club pleaded with him to stay and even proposed to play a charity match and raise funds for him but he refused to take the money and asked it to be donated to local orphans.
He later returned to India to play for his former club, Mohammedan SC.
Looking at the stories of three Indian footballers who rejected offers from top European clubs.