You got to be mad to be a goalkeeper. Even the slightest of mistakes can lead to a goal and no number of heroic saves that follow can make up for it.

In the Indian Super League this season, though, it’s been a bit different. As goals have dried up for various reasons, the men between the sticks have stood tall, stealing the limelight from the forwards with some truly sensational saves.

As Indian goalscorers continue to be few and far between, the place in the goal is now very much a space for local talent. This is the first ISL season where there are no foreign goalkeepers in the ISL, and so far the Indian custodians have shown why there’s little need for one.

Averaging 4.48 saves per game, the goalkeepers have certainly helped their teams save some crucial points in a season that is set to be the closest to date.

Looking back at the first month of the season, there haven’t been too many goals that have caught the eye of the fans, but the same can’t be said of some of the stunning saves the goalkeepers have pulled off.

From breathtaking reflex saves to acrobatic stops at full stretch, the goalkeepers have conjured up a real collection. Here are some of the best saves in the ISL so far this season.

These twin saves from Odisha’s Arshdeep Singh went in vain FC Goa won 1-0, but he prevented them from getting a hiding.

At 34, Subrata Paul’s still got it. Living up to the Indian Spiderman tag here.

Talk of reflex saves, this one from NorthEast United’s Gurmeet Singh is right up there.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu showing why he is India’s No 1 goalkeeper.

A difficult save made to look easy by TP Rehenesh.

More of the same from Rehenesh...

Flying Kaith!

Gurmeet ‘Neuer’ Singh

Albino Gomes saves from the spot

Onwu denied by TP Rehenesh

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu saves from point black range against Hyderabad

East Bengal have had few moments to cherish this season. This save from Debjit perhaps would provide some solace.

Amrinder Singh keeping his team level against ten-man FC Goa.

Earning the big bucks

With good performances over the last few seasons continuing into the new one, Indian goalkeepers are being rewarded. Mumbai City FC’s Amrinder Singh was made the highest-paid Indian goalkeeper earning Rs 1 crore and 20 lakh annually in 2018.

When Bengaluru FC signed Gurpreet Singh Sandhu from Norway’s Stabaek FC, he revealed that he was earning more money at the Indian club than what he did in Norway.

More playing time

Last season, goalkeepers were only behind full-backs in terms of the average game time for Indian players.

Playing position Total minutes played by Indian players Total number of Indian players played Average game-time for Indian players
Goalkeeper 16221 18 901 minutes
Central Defender 14199 26 546 minutes
Full-back 34702 38 913 minutes
Central Midfielder 17798 31 574 minutes
Winger/ Attacking midfielder 19868 30 662 minutes
Centre-forward 5446 13 418 minutes

Guaranteed playing time and fairly handsome wages have meant that there are big incentives for goalkeepers in the ISL. With the likes of Gurpreet setting the trend, there’s a clear pathway for young goalkeepers to make it big in their careers.


Elsewhere, the likes of Vishal Kaith (Chennaiyin FC), Mohammad Nawaz (FC Goa) and Arindam Bhattacharja (ATK Mohun Bagan) have been first choice goalkeepers at their respective clubs for more than one season, providing stability to their careers.

However, the ISL teams have added 17 new goalkeepers to the league to provide further competition to the ones who have cemented their places in their teams. Strong competition helps elevate the overall level of performance and this season, barring few mistakes, the goalkeepers have stepped it up.

As the season progresses and as the players reach their peak fitness levels, the forwards may dominate the headlines once again, but with goalkeepers earning higher rewards and facing tougher competition to hold onto their places, expect them to keep pulling off these fine saves and continue to make a difference.