HomeSportsFootballSantosh Trophy: Exploring the Legacy & Spirit of Indian Football
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Santosh Trophy: Exploring the Legacy & Spirit of Indian Football

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The Santosh Trophy, a revered institution in Indian football, stands as a testament to the nation’s diverse footballing heritage. Named after Maharaja Sir Manmatha Nath Roy Chowdhary of Santosh, the Santosh Trophy tournament holds a storied history that dates back to 1941. Organized by the Indian Football Association (IFA), it began as a regional competition aimed at fostering healthy competition between states and provinces. Over the decades, the Santosh Trophy has metamorphosed into a national-level extravaganza, drawing attention from football enthusiasts across the country. The tournament provides a platform for state and union territory teams to exhibit their footballing prowess and showcase the talent nurtured within their regions. It encapsulates the essence of regional pride and unity, with players representing their states with honor and passion.

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The Santosh Trophy has witnessed thrilling encounters, iconic moments, and the emergence of rising stars who have gone on to represent India at the international level. Beyond the competition, it has become a symbol of the nation’s love for football, fostering grassroots development, and promoting the sport’s growth across diverse communities. As the Santosh Trophy continues to evolve, it remains a beacon of India’s footballing spirit and a celebration of the sport’s unifying power.

The Rich History 

Santosh Trophy: History, Format, Teams | Football Tournament | KreedOn
The 1958 Santosh Trophy-winning Hyderabad side, Image Source: The Hindu

The Santosh Trophy, an esteemed football tournament in India, traces its roots to 1941 when it was inaugurated by the Indian Football Association (IFA). Named after Maharaja Sir Manmatha Nath Roy Chowdhary of Santosh (now in Bangladesh), the then President of the Indian Football Association, the tournament was initially conceived as a means to foster inter-state football competition. Since its inception, the Santosh Trophy has evolved from a regional contest to a nationally recognized tournament, reflecting the growth of football in India.

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Over the years, it has provided a platform for state and union territory teams to showcase their talents and compete at a high level. The tournament’s format has seen modifications, but its essence remains consistent – celebrating the spirit of regional football pride. The Santosh Trophy has been instrumental in identifying and nurturing footballing talents from various corners of the country. It has witnessed historic moments, memorable matches, and the rise of underdog teams challenging established powerhouses. The tournament’s rich history is a testament to the passion for football that courses through India, promoting unity in diversity and serving as a crucial chapter in the nation’s sporting heritage.

Format of the Tournament

Source: The Indian Express

The Santosh Trophy follows a competitive format that brings together state and union territory football teams from across India. The tournament typically consists of qualifying rounds, followed by knockout stages leading to the final. In the initial stages, participating teams are divided into groups, where they engage in a round-robin format. This phase allows each team to compete against others in their group, and points are awarded for wins and draws. The top teams from each group advance to the knockout rounds based on their performance. The knockout stage comprises quarter-finals, semi-finals, and culminates in the grand finale.

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The teams that progress face off in single-elimination matches, with the winners moving forward and the losers being eliminated. These stages heighten the intensity and drama of the competition, often resulting in thrilling matches that captivate football fans across the nation. The final match determines the Santosh Trophy winner, showcasing the pinnacle of football excellence among state teams. The format ensures a fair representation of different regions and an opportunity for both traditional powerhouses and emerging talents to shine. The Santosh Trophy’s format not only showcases the footballing skills of players but also exemplifies the unity in diversity that Indian football embodies.

About the Trophy

Santosh Trophy: History, Format, Teams | Football – KreedOn
Image Source: Gulf News

The Santosh Trophy trophy is traditionally made of silver and stands as a testament to the rich footballing heritage of the country. It typically features intricate engravings, designs, and craftsmanship that reflect the cultural diversity of India. The trophy’s design often incorporates elements that represent different states and regions, highlighting the unity in diversity that the tournament embodies.

Over the years, the trophy has become a prestigious symbol of achievement for the winning state team. It is not only a reward for their on-field performance but also a recognition of their dedication, teamwork, and determination to excel in the sport. Captaining a team to victory and lifting the Santosh Trophy is a moment of immense pride for any player.

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Teams in Santosh Trophy 

The Santosh Trophy, one of India’s most prestigious football tournaments, showcases the talents of state and union territory teams from across the country. Every year, teams representing different regions participate in this competition, contributing to the vibrant tapestry of Indian football. These teams encompass a diverse array of players, each representing their respective states or territories. The tournament often features traditional football powerhouses like Bengal, Kerala, Goa, and West Bengal, known for their strong footballing traditions. These teams bring with them a rich history of producing top-tier players who have excelled both domestically and internationally. However, the Santosh Trophy is not limited to these powerhouses.

Teams from less well-known footballing locations also compete, bringing a twist to the competition. States like Manipur, Mizoram, and Meghalaya have demonstrated outstanding talent, challenging old favorites and demonstrating the expansion of football in these regions. Finally, the Santosh Trophy teams reflect India’s numerous cultural, geographical, and footballing landscapes. The event provides a venue for players from all backgrounds to come together, compete, and contribute to Indian football’s history.

Teams in Santosh Trophy
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Andhra Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh
Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
Himachal Pradesh
Jammu and Kashmir
Madhya Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal


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Santosh Trophy Winners List (1941-2023)

Santosh Trophy: History, Format, Teams | KreedOn

With 32 titles under their belt, West Bengal stands as the most accomplished team in the history of the Santosh Trophy.

Edition Winner Runners up
1941-42 West Bengal (Bengal) Delhi
1944-45 Delhi West Bengal (Bengal)
1945-46 West Bengal (Bengal) Maharashtra (Bombay)
1946-47 Karnataka (Mysore) West Bengal (Bengal)
1947-48 West Bengal (Bengal) Maharashtra (Bombay)
1949-50 West Bengal (Bengal) Hyderabad
1950-51 West Bengal (Bengal) Hyderabad
1951-52 West Bengal (Bengal) Maharashtra (Bombay)
1952-53 Karnataka (Mysore) West Bengal (Bengal)
1953-54 West Bengal (Bengal) Karnataka (Mysore)
1954-55 Maharashtra (Bombay) Services
1955-56 West Bengal (Bengal) Karnataka (Mysore)
1956-57 Hyderabad Maharashtra (Bombay)
1957-58 Hyderabad Maharashtra (Bombay)
1958-59 West Bengal (Bengal) Services
1959-60 West Bengal (Bengal) Maharashtra (Bombay)
1960-61 Services West Bengal (Bengal)
1961-62 Railways Maharashtra (Bombay)
1962-63 West Bengal (Bengal) Karnataka (Mysore)
1963-64 Maharashtra Andhra Pradesh
1964-65 Railways West Bengal (Bengal)
1965-66 Andhra Pradesh West Bengal (Bengal)
1966-67 Railways Services
1967-68 Karnataka (Mysore) West Bengal (Bengal)
1968-69 Karnataka (Mysore) West Bengal (Bengal)
1969-70 West Bengal (Bengal) Services
1970-71 Punjab Karnataka (Mysore)
1971-72 West Bengal (Bengal) Railways
1972-73 West Bengal (Bengal) Tamil Nadu
1973-74 Kerala Railways
1974-75 Punjab West Bengal (Bengal)
1975-76 West Bengal (Bengal) Karnataka
1976-77 West Bengal (Bengal) Maharashtra
1977-78 West Bengal (Bengal) Punjab
1978-79 West Bengal (Bengal) Goa
1979-80 West Bengal (Bengal) Punjab
1980-81 Punjab Railways
1981-82 West Bengal (Bengal) Railways
West Bengal (Bengal) and Goa
1983-84 Goa Punjab
1984-85 Punjab Maharashtra
1985-86 Punjab West Bengal (Bengal)
1986-87 West Bengal (Bengal) Railways
1987-88 Punjab Kerala
1988-89 West Bengal (Bengal) Kerala
1989-90 Goa Kerala
1990-91 Maharashtra Kerala
1991-92 Kerala Goa
1992-93 Kerala Maharashtra
1993-94 West Bengal (Bengal) Kerala
1994-95 West Bengal (Bengal) Punjab
1995-96 West Bengal (Bengal) Goa
1996-97 West Bengal (Bengal) Goa
1997-98 West Bengal (Bengal) Goa
1998-99 West Bengal (Bengal) Goa
1999-2000 Maharashtra Kerala
2001-02 Kerala Goa
2002-03 Manipur Kerala
2003-04 Kerala Punjab
2005-06 Goa Maharashta
2006-07 Punjab West Bengal
2007-08 Punjab Services
2008-09 Goa West Bengal
2009-10 West Bengal Punjab
2010-11 West Bengal Manipur
2011-12 Services Tamil Nadu
2012-13 Services Kerala
2013-14 Mizoram Railways
2014-15 Services Punjab
2015-16 Services Maharashtra
2016-17 West Bengal Goa
2017-18 Kerala West Bengal
2018-19 Services Punjab
2021-22 Kerala West Bengal
2022-23 Karnataka Meghalaya



The Santosh Trophy isn’t just a football tournament; it’s a living testament to the spirit of Indian football. It encapsulates the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of players, fans, and communities across the nation. With each edition, the tournament reinforces the notion that the heart of Indian football beats in every state, city, and village that passionately supports their team. As the Santosh Trophy continues to shine, it will forever remain a cherished chapter in the ever-evolving story of Indian sports.

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What is the Santosh Trophy?

The Santosh Trophy is a prestigious national-level football tournament in India, where various state and union territory teams compete for supremacy.

Who is the tournament named after?

The tournament is named after Maharaja Sir Manmatha Nath Roy Chowdhary of Santosh, who was the President of the Indian Football Association during its inception.

When did the Santosh Trophy start?

The Santosh Trophy was first held in 1941, and it has since become one of the oldest and most celebrated football competitions in the country.

What is the significance of the Santosh Trophy?

The Santosh Trophy tournament provides a platform for showcasing local football talent from different regions, promoting unity through sports and creating opportunities for players to be noticed by professional clubs.

Who can participate in the Santosh Trophy?

State and union territory teams, usually composed of players representing various clubs within the respective region, participate in the Santosh Trophy.

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