East Bengal FC have confirmed the appointment of former Indian national team head coach Stephen Constantine as their new manager for the upcoming season. The 59-year-old UEFA Pro Licence holder coached India between 2002-2005 and for a second stint between 2015 and 2019. His assistant is likely to be Kerala’s Santosh Trophy winning coach Bino George.
From London and of Greek-Cypriot descent, Constantine played club football briefly in the United States, but had to retire due to an injury. After starting his coaching career in the US and Cypriot, he went on to specialise in coaching national teams starting with Nepal between 1999 and 2001.
From 2002-2005, he managed India in what would be his first stint. Over the next few years, he coached Malawi, Sudan, Rwanda and the Blue Tigers for a second stint between 2015 and 2019.
During this period, India won the SAFF Championship in 2016, qualified for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 and won the Intercontinental Cup in 2018 where they beat Kenya in the final. At the AFC Asian Cup 2019, India failed to progress past the group stage following which Constantine submitted his resignation. His replacement was current Indian team head coach – the former Croatian international Igor Stimac.
Although criticised for his conservative approach, he was credited with bringing India’s FIFA ranking down from 173rd in March 2015 to 97th in December 2018. In his second stint with the Indian NT, he managed 42 matches in which he won 23, drew six and lost 13 (PPM: 1.79).
At club level, he managed Millwall FC in 2005-06 followed by coaching roles at various clubs in Cypriot and an assistant coach role with Greek club Apollon Smyrnis FC. His most recent coaching assignment was as manager at Cypriot First Division club Pafos FC in 2021.
Stephen has also worked as a FIFA instructor and is a member of FIFA’s Elite Coaching Panel. With the acquisition by Emami Group soon to be confirmed, East Bengal will be looking for stability under Constantine after a horrendous two-season run in the ISL – they finished bottom of the pile (11th) in the 2021-22 ISL.