We recently had talks with some of these finest footballers playing in the ISL, but in our very recent interview we had a special player. A player who is one of the finest but still so young. He plays for the Indian National Team already and had a wonderful season on the Left Wing with Chennaiyin FC. You know by know, it is none other than our very own, Lallianzuala Chhangte.
We had the opprtunity to have a conversation with him, and let’s see what he had to say and how has he been preparing for the next season and much more.
To begin with, Say us how has things been going in lockdown? How are you doing and how’s your family? How’s your training been in lockdown?
Ans: It’s a difficult time for all of us. But, I’ve been trying to work out as much as I could, because we have to keep our body fit all the time and I’m doing alot in my house itself, I have some equipments and a small gym you can say and I used to run in the roads and thats how I spend most of my time.
• Born in Mizoram you surely were familiar with football since a very young age. But tell us how it all started for you as a kid?
Ans: Actually, when I played for my locality and school team, many people had a lot of faith in me and even my parents and specially my Grandfather they all had faith in me and the moment I joined academy when I was 12years old, I made up my mind that I will become a professional footballer one day. But it was never that easy for me, because I wasn’t the best or the most skillful one but I was always doing in best in fitness and hard work, so I think that’s what made me what I am today.
• Who has inspired you the most?
Ans: Since I was a kid, my family played the most important role in inspiring me and motivating me. My family, specially my Mom and Dad, they were always there when I needed them. So, I took lots of advice from them and I always try to obey them. So my family has been the most inspiring for me.
• So you started your professional career from DSK’s Liverpool International Football Academy. How was it back then. How was things, and your experience and overall what was going on through your mind, in short??
Ans: Since I joined the academy, lots of players were there and it was a very professional academy, kind of International Standard, and I was very excited but as I said it was never easy. As soon as I joined the academy, when I looked around I was one of the smallest lad, you can see me on the pitch I’m not the tallest, also I wasn’t the quickest either at that time, so I had to work very hard and motivate myself, and had to be my own motivator most of the times. So, I think I’m here today right now because I didn’t give up that time.
It was a very good academy. I want to thank all the coaches, all the staffs I had been working with, at the academy. They were very good for me and I will never forget that academy.
• U played in the ILeague for DSK Shivajians, what was the experience of playing in the ILeague at that young age??
Ans: It’s been a good experience because they was the first time time played in the ILeague. The coach had trust and faith on me. He gave me opportunities, but may be I wasn’t that much effective for the team because I was young, so I have many things to learn. The experienced playerd also helped me a lot. The foreign players and even the Indian players, they always gave me advice, and never spoke bad words to us, specially to the young players. So, I think I’ve learnt a lot from them.
Back then we had good players but I think we didn’t play upto our potential. It can be said that it wasn’t our season, because the time we spent together was not sufficient and we come from different states and different countries, so we didn’t have a lot of time, but we had good players. So, I think I’ve learned a lot from them.
• Ok so the Chennaiyin fans probably have been waiting for a while now, so let’s just talk about Chennai first. Lallianzuala Chhangte, the name has been a hearthrob for the Chennaiyin fans this season. And what a season for Chennai. And not only Chennai but you too because you had much major role to play in their season this year.
Before I ask something just go ahead to say something for the Chennaiyin fans, and the season and how was the experience. Let the emotions burst out.
Ans: Hello guys. One thing I would never forget is the atmosphere I experienced against Goa in the ISL Semi finals. That gives me goosebumps, because the atmosphere and the fans were amazing, and I’ll never forget that night. You guys were amazing.
• 7 Goals this season, 2nd highest Indian Goal scorer for the season. With the team reaching the finals, even after a poor start to the season, what a massive season this was. What went through your mind, the team was down, change of coach, scoring plenty, wonderful runs down the left plank. What was all that magic, suddenly from you and the team??
Ans: First of all, the time we got for pre-season wasn’t sufficient. The players were coming from different clubs and different countries, and Chennaiyin FC was trying to build a new team, so that’s why I think we were struggling at the beginning of the season, to know each other. So, as games went on we got to know each other more, what we are good at, what we were not good at. so we were building on the team, specially after Owen Coyle came in. He gave us a lot of confidence, and a lot of good motivation on and off the pitch. So, I think even though we were struggling a bit at the start of the season, slowly we got to know each other better, and could play the way in which we are good at and playing good football in the ground. Specially the attackers, they were amazing, like Rafael, Andre, Vlaskis and even in the midfield, and in defence, we were very compact.
For me I think, first and foremost its the blessing from the most high God, and ofcourse its the hard work of the team, of my teammates, and all the staffs, and others who started the team and built the team. It’s all of us that I’ll give the credit to.
• You’ve also played under Joseph Gambou, also John Gregory, and then Owen Coyle How was that experience and who do you think you like the most, apart from Owen Coyle??
Ans: For me, I think all of the coaches I’ve played under are very great and very kind and so good to me. They had given me the opportunity to play, specially the last three seasons, I had played all the matches under them, all the coaches. I’m very thankful from my heart, and I’ve gained a lot of experience from them. Also, I hope I will live up to their expectations, and I will give my best and work very hard to make them proud. So, for me to are all very good and kind to me.
• You played for Delhi for 2 seasons before you moved on to Chennaiyin. But in between there was something big. Viking FK ofcourse. Everyone here in India were so excited, but we would like to hear from your side aswell. Share your experience in Norway, the trials, the players and everything, and your time out there.
Ans: It was setback moment for me, but I gained a lot of experience. Regarding how hard do I need to work more. When I reached Norway, there were a bunch of good players and that motivated me alot. I had many things to learn from that experience and also many more things to learn in my life specially on football pitch. So, I am going to work really hard and anything can happen in future.
Unfortunarely, I did not have ample time or enough time. So, I hope I will get another chance in may be anothee club or another country. Let’s see.
• So enough talks about Club, let’s talk a bit about National Teams. You represented India in the age group teams before your senior National Team Debut. How was the feeling to represent the country for the first time. Wearing those National Colours. Also, what went through your mind and say us about your experiences for the National Team in age groups.
Ans: Representing the Country is not a small thing and it’s one of the best thing a Footballer can do. There are many people around the Country who want to play for India. So it’s not a small thing and I’m very lucky and I didn’t take it for granted. Specially, when I wear the National Team Jersey, I always try my best and give extra effort to make my people and my country proud. So, that’s how big it is and I hope more opportunities will come for the Indian Team and the fans also.
• Well who can forget your senior National Team debut and also those 2Goals against Nepal, in the 4-1 victory, in SAFF Cup. What went on through your mind that day and take us through your debut for the senior National Team. How did it feel??
Ans: It was amazing. First of all, that was not coming from me, you can say that it is from above(God). I want to thank the coach, Constantine. I don’t know why he gave me that opportunity to play, because I was still a kid and even though I was a kid, he trusted me and gave me the opportunity to play. So, I will never forget that trust he gave me.
Also, about the goal, I will never forget. I was so happy, and it gives me motivation to see more goals for India, and its very special to score for India.
• Well it’s been a long time since then, as it can be said you’ve been regular for the NT, specially recently. You’ve been a part of the World Cup Qualifiers for India so how was that feeling to play at that stage for the Country?
Ans: I think we had a good start, but most of the players in the team are very young like us. But, with the help of experience and our coach Igor Stimac, and this team, I think we can achieve something great and it’s a big thing to be a part of this team and this World Cup Qualifiers. I think as soon as we get back to the camp, our game, our technique and all the things we be better than before and hopefully everyone is working very hard. All of my friends that I’ve talked to, they’ve all been working very hard in their home and in the pitch. So, we have a bright future ahead of us.
We’ve seen you playing at the right wing at times and then at the left wing at times, mostly at the right wing now a days. So which position do u prefer playing the most?? The right wing, or left wing??
Ans: Since last three seasons, I am playing as left wing and I think I am getting used to it, because making a cross is more easier and getting inside is a lot harder. So, I would prefer left wing now, but sometimes I would like to switch to the right side and do some magic, like I did against Nepal (::smiles::). But yeah I would prefer left wing right now because I’m getting used to it.
• So can we expect you to play in some foreign leagues sooner or later?? Do u have any such goals??
Ans: Yes. That’s my dream since I was a kid. Since, I saw the Liverpool Academy coming in India, in that newspaper I saw that, if your are good enough and if you perform well, you have the opportunity to go to Liverpool and that really motivated me. So, that was my dream to play since then, and I never changed that dream. But you know, its not easy for an Indian footballer to play in a big league in Europe, but again everything is possible with God. So, let’s see, I would love to play one day.
• The next question might be a bit controversial. Every one has a dream to play for East Bengal and Mohun Bagan like clubs. While you grew up, which team did u dream to play for, in India?
Ans: When I was a kid, (I’m still a kid though, right now, to my Mom ::laughs::) we used to watch ILeague alot, because it was the highest league in India. The atmosphere they have in East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, is very exciting, and always a game to watch. We never missed that match and I always dreamt that one day I would love to play there infront of Lakhs of fans. So I always used to think, I would love to play for one of the clubs, when I was a kid. I’m really happy that even Mohun Bagan is coming in ISL. These clubs are great in Indian Football and they have lots of contribution and a great history in Indian Football. So, I have huge respect for both teams and I would love to play may be one day.
• What’s your goals going into the next season??
Ans: I always set a target for the next season, that is to be better than the last season. That’s my main target. So, suppose I scored 7 Goals last year, so I would like to score 10-15 Goals, and assisting 5-10 Goals. So, that’s my target always, to be better than last season. So, hopefully by the grace of God this pandemic will soon be over and hopefully we can get back to the pitch.
Rapid But Questions:
Fifa or Pes? – FIFA 100%
Ronaldo or Messi? – Ronaldo.
Favourire Foreign Club? – Chelsea FC.
Favorite Club in India, except CFC? – Delhi Dynamos. Toughest Opponent Team? – Bengaluru FC, specially at their home.
Toughest Opponent Player? – Sandesh Jhingan. Favourite food? – Potato and Egg. Best friend at CFC? – Jerry and Dinliana. Favourite Player, except Ronaldo Messi? – Frank Lampard. If not a footballer what would Chhangte be? – He would be a great musician I guess. (::smiles::)
That’s it for the Rapid fire, but before ending the conversation, just a small tip or advice for the young footballers who dream to become a professional footballer.
– I think, right now there is a lot of opportunity and you can join the academies as well. But whatever you do, be it business or Football or anything, if you want to be really successful and I’m working on that too, so it’s not easy road, not just in football but in whatever you do. Everyday you have to dedicate yourself, be determined and you have to work really hard to achieve something great. Many people just want to have something good, something big, butt hey forget to work hard. So, its important that if you want to achieve something great, you need to work very hard and ofcourse, that is the most important is that, in everything you do, you should trust God, and put God first. If you Trust God, he will direct your path, I promise you that, and Never give up.
That’s all we had from Lallianzuala Chhangte. It was wonderful to have a conversation with one of the brightest youngsters of Indian Football. We from IFTWC, wish you all the very best for next season and also your career ahead. Hope to see more greatness on your way and ofcourse for the Indian National Team.