The 20-year-old from Mizoram was named the Emerging player of the Year in the ISL 2020-21 season.

The whole footballing fraternity was taken by surprise when NorthEast United FC announced Lalengmawia as the captain of the Highlanders, making him the youngest captain in the history of Indian Super League. Gerard Nus, who has previously worked with legends like Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres, among others at Liverpool, was the head coach of NEUFC during that time. It was his decision to show the utmost level of confidence in such a young player and hand him the armband.

Gerard, during an online interaction with the young footballers of Zinc Football Academy based in Udaipur, said: “I know it took everyone by surprise when I made Lalengmawia captain of the NEUFC team. When we already had so many experienced Indian as well as foreign players in our dugout.

“But as the head coach, I was extremely happy with the dedication and hard work the boy from Mizoram was putting in both on and off the pitch. He has that urge to keep learning and giving his more than 100 percent at every training session. Those are the attributes you look for in a young player. Soon after, he was called for the Indian National Team too.”

Importance of passion and hunger

During his interaction with the young footballers, Gerard highlighted the importance of having passion and hunger to fulfil the dreams citing the example of 20-year-old Lalengmawia.

The Spaniard further spoke about former NEUFC right-back Ashutosh Mehta, saying that even at the age of 29 is constantly looking to strengthen his weaknesses and become a better version of himself.

“I often saw Ashutosh training with his weak left foot during his idle hours. He would go to the gym alone and train hard to match the level of elite competition”, said Gerard.

Lalengmawia played each of NorthEast United’s 22 matches in the ISL last season. He chipped in with one goal. But it was calming presence in midfield that caught the attention of the footballing world.

The 20-year-old made 93 tackles, 46 interceptions and 23 clearances. He also averaged 36.86 passes per game and took a total of 1024 touches on the ball in the entire season.

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