I-League Players With Maximum Golden Boot Awards
Since 2007, only two players have picked the maximum number of I-League golden boot awards
In India, the I-League is the most competitive domestic football league after the Indian Super League (ISL). Therefore, it is difficult for a player to dominate the tournament with tons of goals against mighty teams with defensive walls. However, in the tournament’s history, only two players have picked up the maximum number of I-League golden boot awards. In the following paragraphs, we have listed the exploits of those two players and the name of another player who tried to match the legacy of the two.
Five Golden Boots
From 2007 until now, the only player to win five golden boots is Ranti Martins Soleye. A retired Nigerian striker, Martins was one of the best foreign players in the history of the I-League. Across all I-League seasons, Martins scored a record 214 goals. Not to forget, in the 2011-2012 season, he scored 32 goals (another record) for Dempo. Furthermore, in the AFC Cup, he scored 22 goals while representing Indian clubs.
Martins won three consecutive golden boots in 2011, 2012 and 2013 with a goal tally of 30, 32 and 27, respectively. In 2015 (17 goals) and 2016 (12 goals), he won another two consecutive golden boots while playing for East Bengal.
Another Nigerian professional football player, OdafaOnyekaOkolie was the highest-paid footballer in the I-League with an annual salary of INR 1.4 crore in 2011. After Martins, Okolie still holds the record of scoring the second-highest number of goals (179) in the history of the I-League (including the NFL). Not to forget, his record of 13 hattricks in the I-League is still intact.
Okolie won three golden boots in 2008, 2009 and 2010 while playing for Churchill Brothers. In 2008 and 2010, he scored 22 goals whereas, in 2009, he raised the bar to 26 goals. Okolie spent most of his I-League days with Churchill Brothers and Mohun Bagan (presently ATK Mohun Bagan).
Presently representing Aizawl Football Club in the I-League, the 33-year-old from Cameroon is the only player who got a little close to Okolie and Martins with two golden boots. His first golden boot arrived in 2017 when he scored only 11 goals while playing for ShillongLajong, whereas he won his second golden boot in 2018 by scoring 13 goals for Mohun Bagan.