Atletico de Kolkata
Atletico de Kolkata celebrate after become the first champions of the Hero Indian Super LeagueISL's Official Website

Atlético de Kolkata's boss Antonio Lopez Habas lauded his players after his side beat Kerala Blasters to become champions in the inagural edition of Hero Indian Super League (ISL).

Mohammed Rafique turned out to be the ultimate hero for Atlético de Kolkata as he came off the bench to score the winner right at the death, leaving Kerala Blasters completely stunned.

However, despite all eyes being on Rafique, Habas was quick to point out that his side's triumph in the inaugural season of the ISL resulted due to the overall team effort.

"I must thank my players for they have been magnificent. I cannot ask them for anything more, for they have given me the ultimate gift," a happy Habas told ISL's official website.

The Spaniard also extended his gratitude to his entire backroom staff, the owners of the club and the fans, to whom he dedicated the ISL title.

"I must thank my entire support staff, for without them, I would not have been able to function. The owners have been fantastic and have supported us through thick and thin. This title is for the fans as they have been our strength."

Kolkata's marquee player Luis Garcia, who missed the final due to an injury, also expressed his joy after his side won the inaugural ISL title, saying he was happy to see an Indian player score the winning goal.

"I think it is marvellous that Rafique got the winning goal. It is fantastic that an Indian player settled the contest," the 36-year-old Spaniard told ISL's official website.

Despite admitting that he was disappointed to miss the final, the former Liverpool midfielder said he was delighted to see his side win. 

"I was disappointed not to play today as every player wants to play in a huge final like this, but I am delighted that we are the champions. That is what matters in the end."

Finally, Rafique said he was elated after heading home the winner in the five minutes of extra time, saying that his feeling was "surreal."

"I cannot describe what I am feeling in words," said the midfielder. "I would like to thank my coach, who had faith in me. It was he who decided to bring me on and what happened next was surreal. People dream of scoring in a final and I am very fortunate that I got to experience that in the flesh."

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