Football started its journey in India when the British rulers brought it with them and in no time, it became popular among the masses. The first recorded game held in India took place between the 'Calcutta Club of Civilians' and 'The Gentlemen of Barrackpore' in 1854. The first ever football club in the history of Indian Football, the Calcutta FC was established in 1872. However, there are reports that the club was initially a rugby club and later switched its attentions to Football in 1894. Some of the other ancient Football clubs in India include Mohan Bagan Athletic Club, founded in 1889, the Dalhousie Club, the Traders Club and also the Naval Volunteers Club. The Mohun Bagan AC was later named as the 'National Club of India'.
The first football association in India, the Indian Football Association (IFA) started its journey in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1893; however, it did not have a single Indian on its board till the 1930s. In 1898, the oldest in India and also the third oldest football tournament in the world, the Durand Cup football tournament was started in Shimla. The tournament was inaugurated by and named after the then Foreign Secretary of India, Sir Mortimer Durand. The first mentionable achievement for the Indians in Football came in 1911, when Mohun Bagan AC became the first Indian team to win the IFA-Shield Trophy. The trophy was previously won only by the British teams based in India. The win is still referred as one of the biggest achievements in the history of Indian Football.
After the huge success of Mohun Bagan AC of winning the IFA-Shield Trophy, football tournaments and football clubs spread rapidly. The increasing number of football clubs led to the formation of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in 1937. The AIFF got affiliation from the international governing body for Football, FIFA in 1948 and it was also one of the founder members of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in 1954. All these events are considered as memorable milestones in the history of Indian Football.
The decade of 1951 to 1962 is referred as the golden era in the history of Indian Football, as the country put up a commendable performance in a number of international competitions. India won gold medals in the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games, held at New Delhi and Jakarta, respectively and it became the first Asian nation to reach the Olympic football semi-finals, in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Even in the recent years the Indian Football team has shown some great performances, like winning the Nehru Cup in August, 2007. The team also won the AFC Challenge Cup in August 2008, and in turn qualified for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar. Apart from the Indian National Football team, various Indian Football clubs have also shown wonderful performances in different international tournaments.
The AIFF has recruited Bob Houghton as the manager of the national team. His experience from his associations with some top-ranked Asian teams has further benefited the Indian team. Back in the year 2006, India signed a cultural agreement in 2006 with Brazil. As per the agreement the two countries for the greater interest of promoting football would cooperate each other.