Highest Transfer Fees Paid by I-League Clubs

In 2009, a club from I-League spent 9,20,000 US dollars to procure a Nigerian player

In the world of football, India’s I-League may be a minor domestic league that is only known to Indian football fans. However, in India, it is a major league that once served as the country’s top-tier league until the Indian Super League took its place.

At the moment, the budget of I-League teams is quite less compared to teams taking part in the Indian Super League (ISL). However, a few years ago, some I-League teams created history by spending huge money on a player or two.

In the following paragraphs, we have listed the highest transfer fees paid by I-League clubs.


A Nigerian defender, UgaOkpara, was a legendary player who started his footballing career with Enyimba International F.C., a Nigerian football club. In 2002 and 2003, the Nigerian club won the African Champions League and Uga was a part of the winning squad. In short, by Indian standards, he was a legendary player with years of experience.

Therefore, in 2009, Bengal-based I-League club (now part of ISL) East Bengal spent 9,20,000 US dollars or INR 4 crore to secure the services of Okpara from Enyimba. His defensive brilliance helped East Bengal win the Federation Cup, Super Cup, IFA Shield and the Calcutta Football League. Unfortunately, even with Okpara in the squad, East Bengal failed to win the I-League.


A Nigerian professional footballer, Okolie came to India in 2005 and joined the club of Churchill Brothers. From 2005 to 2011, he was an integral part of the club; so much so that in 2011, he was the highest-paid I-League player with an annual salary of INR 1.4 crore. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, Okolie won the I-League golden boot award three consecutive times.

However, in 2011, he left Churchill to join Mohun Bagan; the Bengal-based club that paid a whopping INR 2 crore, as per a report published by the Free Press Journal.

Lester Fernandez

In 2012, Indian attacking midfielder Lester Fernandez made transfer history when he was sold by Pune to Prayag United at INR 20 lakh. In 2007, Fernandez graduated from the Tata Football Academy and joined Dempo. The very year Fernandez touched the I-League trophy with Dempo. Later on in his career, he played for several other clubs but struggled to find game time. At present, Fernandez is withKenkre, a club that takes part in the second division of the I-League.

Rohit Chatterjee

An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Rohit Chatterjee is a bona fide moto-enthusiast who has worked with several media houses in his brief career. Chatterjee mostly writes features and news articles related to automobiles and motorsports. When not working, he is found on the interstate clocking over 100kmph on his NS200!
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