The period from 1951 to 1962 is considered the golden era in Indian football. Under the tutelage of legendary Syed Abdul Rahim India became the best team in Asia. The Indian team started the 1950s with victory in the 1951 Asian Games which they hosted. India beat both Indonesia and Afghanistan 3–0 to reach the final where they beat Iran 1–0. In 1952, India continued their form by winning the Colombo Quadrangular Cup held in Sri Lanka. This is called as the Golden time of Indian football. As four years earlier, many of the team played without boots but after the result in the Olympics AIFF immediately made it mandatory to wear boots.
India also won three further editions of the Quadrangular Cup, which were held in Burma, Calcutta and Dhaka in 1953, 1954 and 1955 respectively. India then went on to finish second ? in the 1954 Asian Games held in Manila.
At the 1956 Olympics they finished fourth, this is the second time India made second history in the world of football. India first met hosts Australia, winning 4–2 with Neville D'Souza becoming the first Asian to score a hatrick in the Olympics and also making India the first Asian team to reach the Olympic semi-finals. They lost 4–1 to Yugoslavia, and lost the third place play-off match 3–0 to Bulgaria.
India participated in the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo, Japan where they finished fourth, and the Merdeka Cup 1959 in Malaysia finishing second. The side started off 1960 with Asian Cup qualifiers in which they failed to qualify. India went on to win the 1962 Asian Games where they beat South Korea 2–1 in the final, and two years later finished second in the 1964 Asian Cup which was held in round-robin format. India played in the Merdeka Cup in 1964, 1965 and 1966 where they finished 2nd, 3rd and 3rd .