The winger talked at length about his experiences in the game as well as his aspirations for the future.
Lallianzuala Chhangte took to Instagram for a live session where he took questions from fans and talked about his aspirations for the future with the national team. He also answered questions surrounding his activities during the lockdown.
The winger is spending his time by working on his fitness and maintaining his balance and shape. “I am working out a lot. I am working on improving my balance as it is so important. I maintain a strict diet which is balanced to my body because there are no doctors or physios around to look after you. I am also working on improving my language skills as well.”
When asked about his performance in the previous ISL season, Lallianzuala Chhangte replied, “Last season was one of the best in my career. Things were difficult at the start, especially in the first eight games as the team struggled. But, the way we turned things was amazing. All credit must go to my teammates and the coaching staff. But, there is still a lot of room for improvements.”
One of Chhangte’s key areas of improvement highlighted in the recently concluded campaign was his decision-making and finishing. Chhangte holds it as an integral part of his development and said, “My aim is to improve in everything with my game. I can see progress and improvements over the past three seasons and especially last season. It is not easy, there is a lot of work to do and it’s all about hard-work.”
“At the start (of professional career) I was not getting opportunities and this made me feel sad. But, I always wanted to improve and wanted to play. Over the last three seasons, I have been playing well and have improved a lot. Now, I have more confidence in training and matches as well,” said Lallianzuala Chhangte.
Despite a slow start to life at his new club, Chhangte featured in every game for the Marina Machans and finished with a credable tally of seven goals. He averaged an impressive 2.1 shots and 2.3 crosses/game and also put in a good defensive shift in the middle, averaging 2.6 tackles and interceptions/match.
Chhangte’s performances augur well for the national team despite tough competition for places in his position in the wide areas. The winger addressed this when it was posed as a question by replying, “It (competition for places in the team) is getting stiffer. But, that is good, especially for me, as it pushes me to become a better player. When you have competition in your team, it motivates you to work extra hard to be in the team. But, no matter if I am there or anyone else is there, I will always be supporting the team 100%.”
Chhangte spoke fondly of his International debut aged just 18 when he featured for the Blue Tigers in the 2015 SAFF Championship. He also notched up his first goals for the nation in a 4-1 win over Nepal in the same tournament.
Speaking about his debut, Chhangte reminisced by saying, “It was an incredible feeling. I always dreamed of playing for the national team, but never expected it to come so early. I got goosebumps all over my body when I went onto the pitch. It was all thanks to Mr.Constantine.”
“It (scoring for the national team) is one of the best memories of my life. I can tell it was a dream come true because everyone doesn’t get the chance to play for the national team and score. I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to play for the Blue Tigers and scoring was an unbelievable feeling.” Chhangte continued, “The match against Nepal (2015 SAFF Championship) would be my favourite match. I scored two goals and one was a great assist from Rowllin Borges. It was a brilliant pass from him.”
One of Chhangte’s high points in his young career was getting to meet and play alongside Sunil Chhetri. The Mizo winger recounted his meeting with Chhetri with great relish. “It was amazing. I was very nervous also. I was so young and he is a legend. He is one of the best in Indian football. He called me during the time and told me not to be afraid to take risks. He motivated me a lot and knew that I had potential. I was so pumped up after that,” said a buoyant Chhangte.
Questions were asked about his preference in position on the wings. Lallianzuala Chhangte responded by admitting his comfort zone to be on the left, saying, “I would prefer the left wing because I have been playing there for the last three seasons and I can cut in and score better from there. But, at times I also like to switch sides and play wider on the right.”
Having attended trials with Norwegian club Viking FK proved to be a great experience for Chhangte from which he mentioned to have learnt a lot. Chhangte said, “The players always gave everything every time they went on the pitch. It never worked like they came back to the dressing room saying ‘I could’ve done this, I could’ve done that.’ They would put everything on the line. I learnt a lot from that.”
When asked about maintaining the balance between academics and football, Chhangte said, “It is a hard decision to make. After Class X, I told my parents and joined the academy outside Mizoram. It was tough, but now I have passed my Class X and am continuing my education. I believe both football and education can be balanced. Education is for a lifetime and it is very important.”
When asked about his favourites from the world of football, Chhangte picked out current Chelsea boss and club legend Frank Lampard and Cristiano Ronaldo as his role-models and said he looks to emulate the two in his gameplay. Lallianzuala Chhangte’s affection towards Lampard also stems from his support for Chelsea FC, which he mentioned to be his favourite team.