The Mizo lad made his senior national team debut as an 18-year-old.
With football slowly developing in India, it is not much of a surprise to see talented youngsters from distant parts of the country coming to the forefront. Especially, when one sees a number of trends rising in the sport’s fraternity, it can be pointed out that pacy players are also hogging the limelight nowadays.
One such talented youngster is Delhi Dynamos attacker Lallianzuala Chhangte. Recently back from his Norwegian adventure, the 21-year-old has been a shining beacon for aspiring football enthusiasts from across the country, especially the northeast. Hidden from the microscopic lens of the Indian media, the Seven Sisters have time and time again produced some brilliant players for our country and the former NorthEast United player easily falls into that category.
Upon his return from Europe, Khel Now got a chance to interview him exclusively and the conversation did open the door on how Chhangte is as a player and as a person.
First and foremost, let us set it straight, Chhangte is a shy and reserved person, who concentrates more on his game, rather than indulging in the distractions surrounding the modern sport. Born in Mizoram’s Lunglei, the winger has football rooted in his DNA. According to him, it was his grandfather, who got him his first football boots. He credits his grandfather, for motivating him to play the sport.
Watch: Lallianzuala Chhangte’s full interview with Khel Now
A trend amongst all the football fans in this country, the DSK Shivajians product also supported a Premier League club. “When I was a kid, I supported Chelsea. By then Frank Lampard was my favourite player,” said Chhangte.
This season, the Dynamos have had a bittersweet campaign, with only pride at stake. After appointing Josep Gombau as their new tactician, it was obvious that the capital club would take time to adjust to the tactics of the former Barcelona youth coach. Delhi had a poor start to this season. It was only after the turn of the year, that it looked like the team was finally adapting to Gombau’s way of football.
The India international attacker stated, “Of course, we didn’t start the season well, but it is very important for us to end it on a high note.”
Every football player has had setbacks in their path to stardom and the way they deal with it, defines who they are; and so has Chhangte. Loaned to NorthEast United from DSK for the 2016 ISL season, he made only one appearance, coming in as a substitute in a loss to Mumbai City. The dearth of playing opportunities can demotivate any player, but the winger treated the phase as a learning experience.
Regarding his time with the Guwahati-based side he said, “Even though I didn’t get much game-time there, I didn’t just sit back and relax. I kept on working hard. Of course, it was a setback for me, but I trusted God and believed that he has a plan for me.”
Before you continue on reading, everyone should know that the left winger made his debut for the senior national team, when he was just 18-years-old in the 2015 SAFF Championship; and it was none other than Stephen Constantine who gave him that opportunity.
“He gave me the opportunity at such a young age. I appreciate him a lot and will never forget him,” said the Mizo lad when asked about Constantine. Chhangte went on to score two goals for the Blue Tigers in the tournament, making him the third youngest goalscorer for the senior national team.
Ahead of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, the former national team tactician made a big decision to exclude the 2014-15 U-19 I-League top scorer from the final roster for the tournament. “I think the other players deserved it more than me. They played a lot of qualifying matches. But, there will be another chance and I will be working hard,” said Chhangte.
Watch: Lallianzuala Chhangte’s goals for India
The winger originally became famous for his displays on the right wing, but now he seems to have settled on the left flank. Naturally left-footed, he went on to explain that he prefers playing on that flank due to a crossing advantage, but if needed he can play on the opposite side too.
On the back of a four-day trial with Viking FK in Norway, Chhangte seemed to be very positive about his display there. “It was a good experience and the coaches gave me good feedback there,” he said. The club hasn’t revealed their decision regarding the youngster, but the news could be out soon.
When asked about his long-term aim the Dynamos talisman expressed right away that he wants to play outside India, preferably in Europe. He stated, “Since my academy days, I always wanted to play abroad.” The 21-year-old lad is a star in the making and could very well be a leader for the Indian team in the foreseeable future; that is, if he continues on the path originally forged by him.