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ISL

Exclusive: Sunil Chhetri is the best player I have played with- Sena Ralte

Written by: Shivam Tiwari

The Lions defenders talk about his journey in Indian football, best friends, favourite players and more.

The only team from North India in the Indian Super League (ISL), capital club Delhi Dynamos have had a tough start to the new season under Spanish tactician Miguel Angel Portugal. After edging FC Pune City on the road in their opener, they have lost three on the bounce against Bengaluru FC, NorthEast United and Jamshedpur FC.  Interestingly, ahead of the new campaign, the Lions started with a completely clean slate, deciding not to retain any of their players from the last term.

One of the team's new recruits was defender Lalhmangaihsanga Ralte more commonly known by the first name Sena. Khel Now caught up with the full-back to find out how he's adapting to his new club and also to get some reflections on his journey in the game so far.

Like many other young players, today Ralte didn’t start his career in the top flight. Instead, he had to climb his way up the ladder along with his former club Royal Wangdoh. He recalled, “I started my career with Royal Wangdoh in 2009. I played third division (Shillong Premier League) with the team, then second division (I-League 2nd Division) and then first division (I-League) in the 2014-15 season. It was the start of my professional career.”

The 29-year-old left-back, has been kept waiting by India coach Stephen Constantine for a national call-up for quite some time now. Yet, the former Mumbai City player doesn’t rue not getting a chance and in fact, had words of praises for the ones playing in his position in the national squad. He said, “The national team players are very good. Jerry is a talented player and so is Dhanachandra. I have no idea though why I have not been called up.”

Ralte has a lot of friends in the Dynamos team. When asked whom he considers his closest friend he said he likes everyone, but gets along really well with Lallianzuala Chhangte, the midfielder who also belongs to his native state Mizoram.

The defender loves his native land very much and he misses his hometown. He also loves farming. When we asked what he would have been if not a footballer he answered, “If I was not a footballer, I would have grown oranges in my native.”


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Ralte celebrating goal with Sunil Chhetri during his BFC days

Ralte has had and still has the opportunity to play with some of the biggest names in the Indian football fraternity. So, we questioned him about whom he considers as the best player he has played with. He didn’t take much time to come up with the answer, “Sunil Chhetri is the best player while Diego Forlan is the best foreigner I have played with.”

The season has seen a complete change in the way the ISL has been structured. The schedule this season looks less tiring and Ralte agreed. He said, “This season the scheduling has been better. We will get time to rest."

"Last season we had little time forcing us to play two or sometimes even three games in a week. Many players including me got injured. I had stretched my hamstring but right now everything’s well. Now the scenario is much better although we won’t get holidays during Christmas (laughs).”

India hosted the recently concluded FIFA U-17 World Cup and we asked Ralte if he followed the Indian U-17 team at the event. He said, “Yes, I followed the World Cup and the lads played very well.”

To conclude, the defender revealed that Chennayin FC’s Jerry Lalrinzuala along with Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos are his role models.

Published: Thu Dec 07, 2017 05:15 PM IST

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