• Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

Lallianzuala Chhangte: I wouldn’t be here today if not for the chances given to me by the ISL

Nineteen games into the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24, Mumbai City FC finds itself placed comfortably at the top of the table with 41 points. They are well placed to potentially become the first team to successfully defend its ISL League Winners Shield. The team has overcome challenges with impeccable ease to be in the pole position in the standings at the moment.

 

One of the key architects of their success so far has been the incumbent ISL Golden Ball holder Lallianzuala Chhangte. With four goals and five assists, the attacker has formed a formidable tuning with the rest of the frontline, interlinking impressively to breach the opposition and their backline on a consistent basis. Having recorded 21 successful dribbles and 79 touches inside the box of the opposition, Chhangte has been an ever present figure in the final third, helping his team score 36 goals so far in the competition, second only to the 38 of the Mohun Bagan Super Giant.

“I thank the ISL for trusting me”

 

Born in Lunglei in Mizoram, Chhangte debuted in the ISL courtesy of NorthEast United FC in 2016. He has since then gone on to have successful stints at Chennaiyin FC and with the Islanders, whilst also becoming a regular in the first-team of the Blue Tigers. Eight years down the line, he expresses indebtedness to the ISL for providing him the chance to prove his mettle against the best talents in the country.

 “I started my first professional club with NEUFC and that was back in 2016. If the clubs and the ISL had not given me the chance to prove myself, I wouldn’t be here today, because they have helped me build my skills and character, both as a player and a human being. I have become more mature lately. I would thank the league for giving me an opportunity, trusting me, and believing in my abilities,” Chhangte said in an interaction with the league.

He added, “The league is developing better and hopefully with more clubs coming in and playing more games will help us become a better player. When you play more matches, it helps you in the national team. The ISL is doing a lot of good work, hopefully they continue to do so, helping young players like me develop every day, hopefully who can go on to play for the national team. I hope one day we will have more recognition from the other countries as well.

“Success at the club and country levels are interconnected”

 Chhangte has been one of the coveted few to have produced success stories that replicate the highs of club football at the international stage too. He luckily made his senior team debut way back in December 2015 against Sri Lanka in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship. Since then, Chhangte has turned up 34 times for the Blue Tigers and scored seven goals. Whilst he adopts the role of a responsible cog in the wheels of the national team, Chhangte fondly recollects the teammates who held his back at a time when he found the going to get a bit tough.

 

“I was 18 when I first played for the national team. I had some setbacks after that. I wasn’t able to perform for the national team, and there are certain times that I was not even in the list (of probable). I kept working very hard. Senior players like Sunil bhai, Sandesh bhai, Gurpreet, have been very helpful even when I was not even in the team. They encouraged me to do well for the club, because when you do well for the club, you get an opportunity for the national team too,” Chhangte said.

“Parents wanted me to concentrate on studies”

Chhangte might be bagging multiple laurels both at the club level as well as individually at the moment, but he makes it a point to acknowledge the tough roads he has traversed through to come to this point. Hailing from a humble background, his parents weren’t initially supportive of helping him make a career in football. Both of them were teachers, and would have liked their son to follow suit. Eventually, they were embraced with the sheer dedication that he showed in making the long journeys to make the cut professionally in the sport.

“I started playing football at a young age, but my parents weren’t a big fan of me becoming a professional, because most of the parents back then wanted us to concentrate on studies. My mom and dad are teachers, but when they saw me dedicating myself every day, going four kilometres for training, and after that going to school again, I convinced them by training very hard. After that they were supportive all the way until today,” he said.

“We had financial problems, and we couldn’t get the right opportunity to go to trials from our village, we had to spend so much money on travel. But fortunately, I got a trial in Aizwal, which is 50 kms from my home. I was selected for the final trials in Pune. Then, I looked around, the players that I was going to compete against were some of the best talents from different states, I looked at myself and I was very small, and I didn’t have the muscle like now. So I was afraid,” he added.

However, even back then, Chhangte knew that the only way out of these challenges was to work harder than his peers. Accordingly, he submitted completely into the love for the game, spending hours in both the training pitch as well as the gymnasium, to become a well-rounded professional.

“But, I knew I had to work hard, dedicate myself every single day. I knew I had to wake when my teammates were sleeping. I knew I had to sleep early when they were watching movies. Waking early to get more training time, eventually all these things add up to a big thing, and that dedication everyday puts myself to where I am today,” he explained.

Chhangte has undoubtedly been one of the standouts of the ISL ecosystem, and someone who has his best years in the game resting ahead of him. The attacker has been central to all the success that the Islanders have seen lately and his importance and influence in the setup is only growing gradually. But, just as his story indicates, Chhangte isn’t the one who will rest on the honours that he has earned already, nor will he stop working hard and doing right whatever has worked wonders for him so far. Having missed out on the ISL trophy last year, he will be aiming to go for the domestic double with Mumbai City FC in this campaign.

 

The Indian Super League returns to action on March 30, 2024, after the international break for the national team’s World Cup qualifiers.

 

 

Source : ISL Media

 

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