India had a rich tradition in Football with many notable players in the past like PK Banerji, IM Vijayan, Shyam Thapa, etc. The team, which was once considered one of the best teams in Asia, had its golden era during the 1950s and early 1960s. During this period, under the coaching of Syed Abdul Rahim, India won gold during the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games, while finishing fourth during the 1956 Summer Olympics. India has never participated in the FIFA World Cup, although the team did qualify by default for the 1950 World Cup after all the other nations in their qualification group withdrew. However, India withdrew prior to the beginning of the tournament. The team has also appeared three times in the Asia's top football competition, the AFC Asian Cup. Their best result in the competition occurred in 1964 when the team finished as runners-up.


India is currently ranked 97 in the World Football Rankings. Despite India not achieving the same results as their golden era, the team has seen a steady resurgence since the beginning of the 21st century. Besides the SAFF Championship triumphs, under the guidance of Bob Houghton, India won the restarted Nehru Cup in 2007 and 2009 while also managing to emerge victorious during the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup. The Challenge Cup victory allowed India to once again qualify for the Asian Cup for the first time in 27 years.

India did participate in the U17 FIFA World Cup as a host nation. The senior team is currently managed by the English coach, Stephen Constantine.