Exclusive: It won't be an easy task in Norway, but I will give my best– Lallianzuala Chhangte
Written by: Neelav Chakravarti
The winger is currently on trial with Norwegian side Viking FK.
It wasn’t long back when an 18-year-old boy from Mizoram made his senior national team debut in the 2015 SAFF Championship scoring two goals in the competition. As expected, India won the tournament, and it also paved the way for Lallianzuala Chhangte, who entered into the echelons of Indian football with potential and promise.
Now three years down the line, the youngster has made a name for himself, being heralded as one of the quickest players in the country. Currently plying his trade for Delhi Dynamos in the Indian Super League, the DSK Shivajians academy product is on his way to another career milestone right now – a trial with Norwegian side Viking FK.
Watch: Lallianzuala Chhangte goals & skills
Khel Now got an opportunity to sit down with the 21-year-old, before he flew to the Scandinavian country for what could prove to be a real turning point in his professional career.
Comfortably placed in the seating of an empty Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the pacy winger instantly broke the ice with his informal way of speaking. Not many people know that the Mizo lad has had to carve his road to the top the hard way; which has taken him through a proper system of trials. Back in 2014, Chhangte was selected to represent DSK Shivajians’ Liverpool International Football Academy. He represented their U-18 team and also participated in the U-19 I-League, finishing the season with 16 goals.
With Lallianzuala Chhangte currently enjoying his most productive #HeroISL season yet, we've taken a deep dive into the unprecedented campaign of the @DelhiDynamos' man!#LetsFootball #FanBannaPadega pic.twitter.com/GwXRYu5L6L— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) February 4, 2019
At a very young age, Chhangte has become a crucial player for Delhi
Looking back at how his dream of becoming a football player became a reality in 2014 he said, “Actually, there was a trial in Aizawl. There were thousands of players. Luckily, I made it to the final selection which was in Pune. I went there and made it past the selection.”
During the early stages of our conversation, the former NorthEast United midfielder made his love for football pretty clear. “Since I was a kid, I wanted to become a professional footballer. It was my dream. So, basically when I was young, I saw in the newspaper that DSK and Liverpool are linked. I decided to go there and luckily I got selected.”
Although the Dynamos have been poor this season, Chhangte has provided the goods time and time again
In 2016, along with current Jamshedpur player Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Lallianzuala acquired a taste of European football, when they travelled to Liverpool’s youth academy at Kirkby. With nostalgia, the Lunglei native recalled, “It was a great experience, even though we were there for a short period of time. In terms of culture too, I learned quite a lot. I learned how the players there train. Everything is very professional there. It is very physical there. The standard is different. The intensity is higher.”
Even after debuting for India in the 2015 SAFF Cup, things didn’t automatically unfold for Chhangte. In May 2016, he joined NorthEast United on loan from DSK. At the end of his time there, he had just played one match in the ISL for The Highlanders.
Although, he is just 21-years-old, Chhangte is considered to be a senior Indian player for Delhi Dynamos. While the club haven’t performed to a certain level this season and are lying in the lower realms of the league standings, he has developed as a player.
Reflecting on the club's performance this campaign he stated, “We didn’t start off with the season so well. Now, I think we are doing good and have to keep the momentum going. We need to keep improving ourselves. We have started off this year very well and need to take one game at a time.”
When asked about Lions boss Josep Gombau Chhangte quipped, “You know, he loves to play offensive football. He is a great coach. He just loves the game. On the pitch and outside too, he guides me a lot. He has trusted me a lot.”
By the time, the current ISL season ends, the attacking midfielder could well be a Viking FK player. While on trial, Chhangte will be facing new challenges there, especially the weather, which is a complete contrast to India’s. When asked about what he expects from this upcoming challenge he stated, “I know that it won’t be an easy task. The weather is different there. I want to take on this new challenge, and will give my best.”
If he goes down the right path, Chhangte could just be a future talisman for India
Chhangte still has a long way to go. Over the years, he has proved that he is a natural winger, with electric pace. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise to know that he doesn’t have any plans to change his position in the foreseeable future. “I think I am very comfortable as a winger, be it on the left flank, or right flank. This is my natural position. Speed is my biggest strength, but I have other things to improve on too.”
It was Stephen Constantine, who gave Lallianzuala his debut for the senior Indian national team. Speaking about the departed Blue Tigers boss the youngster remained most complimentary.
“You know, he is a good person, very tough in fact. He is also very disciplined. He did a very good job with the Indian national team. He was the one who gave me a chance to prove my mettle. At that time, I was just 18-years-old. He trusted me with the responsibility of the national team jersey,” reflected Chhangte.
Lallianzuala Chhangte with a sizzling nutmeg early on ????????!— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) February 4, 2019
Watch it LIVE on @hotstartweets: https://t.co/8ON6UkWXYU
JioTV users can watch it LIVE on the app. #HeroISL #ISLMoments #LetsFootball #DELGOA #FanBannaPadega pic.twitter.com/8VRMgHUJxX
Watch: The youngster's main strengths are pace and trickery
He further added, “You know, my dream came true when he gave me the chance to represent India at such a young age. I felt very proud that time.”
When tracing the thin line of his inspiration behind his position, it probably all comes down to his idol Cristiano Ronaldo. “Messi is a very good player, but I prefer Ronaldo. He inspires me a lot. The amount of work he puts in is simply way too intense. I think I am a left winger because of him.”
Since his first start for India, Chhangte has always been surrounded by senior players, with one such person being Sunil Chhetri. The forward recently got conferred with the Padma Shri and put in an amazing display in the recently-concluded AFC Asian Cup.
When asked about the Bengaluru man Chhangte said, “He is a true legend, everyone knows that. He is a leader on the pitch. Even during India training, if anyone makes a mistake, he never shouts. He always says ‘come on, next time.’ He encourages a lot on the pitch. I always look up to him.”
The Indian international will be in Norway for the next couple of days and will be back for the Dynamos before 14th February, as the club meet Bengaluru FC on the 17th in a crucial fixture. The Norweign chapter beckons Lallianzuala Chhangte!! All the best!!
Published: Fri Feb 08, 2019 04:59 PM IST