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ISL 2017: Meet India’s Second Youngest Goal Scorer Lallianzuala Chhangte

Rarely in India would you find parents who are willing to invest and back a young kid in a sport that is not cricket. But there are always the ‘disobedient’ few who follow their passion unabashedly and unlike authority are absolutely fine with certain parts of the process.

Abhimanyu Sen | News18 Sports

Updated:November 14, 2017, 12:03 PM IST
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ISL 2017: Meet India’s Second Youngest Goal Scorer Lallianzuala Chhangte
Lallianzuala Chhangte with Stephen Constantine (Image: Indian football team)
“Growing up in Mizoram, my parents preferred if I chose to study over playing football.”

Rarely in India would you find parents who are willing to invest and back a young kid in a sport that is not cricket. But there are always the ‘disobedient’ few who follow their passion unabashedly and unlike authority are absolutely fine with certain parts of the process.

“Most of the days we bunked school and played. Whether we played on the streets or in the field it did not matter. Even at home, we are four brothers and we would roll up socks and make it into a ball to play with.”

“I have been suspended in school too for bunking,” laughs Lallianzuala Chhangte. The young man had no doubt enjoyed the moments as he continues to grin for a while.

“Today I am here because I love the game a lot, and I feel blessed.”

The 20-year old who is not only the second youngest to play for the Indian Men’s football team, but is also the second youngest to score for the country. In fact in the process he broke the record of former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia, and in some style as he scored twice in 10 minutes.

The pacy left footed forward who is likely to move into the midfield, specifically, on the wings has his eyes set firmly on ensuring his team Delhi Dynamos are the hardest to beat in the season.

In his first season in the Indian Super League he played for the NorthEast United, but could not make much of an impact.

“I have to perform at my best if I want to have a good tournament.” The small built but stocky Chhangte points out that it is the only way he will make back into Stephen Constantine’s Indian team.

The Delhi team has twice made it to the semi-finals, both years they were managed by World Cup winning men; Roberto Carlos and Gianlucca Zambrotta. The target is nothing short of a title, but first on the to-do list is the playoffs. The Dynamos begin their season on the road against FC Pune City on November 22. The attacker points out that even though the squad has been assembled newly, the players are co-ordinating well on the field.

“We are doing much better now than when we had begun our pre-season. But once the season begins we will have to work our socks off if we want to do well.”

Chhangte loves his music and plays the guitar apart of spending most of his free time nowadays singing with his friend Sena Ralte.

A big fan of his two senior colleagues Jeje and Sunil Chhetri, he points out they have helped him develop his game, but rues the fact that he did not get a chance to play with the man who’s record he broke with a brace against Nepal at the SAFF Championships in 2015.

“Jeje, Sunil Chhetri and Subrata Pal are my idols in the Indian team. I used to watch them play when I was growing up,” he quips.

The young starter was selected by DSK Shivajians's Liverpool International Football Academy in 2014; youth coaches from Liverpool itself to be part of a squad of U-18 players who would take part in the first edition of the 2014-15 U-19 I-League.

Chhangte found the back of the net a total of 16 times making him the top scorer for that edition.

All of this culminated into a small training stint of close to a fortnight with one of English football’s biggest institutions – Liverpool where he trained for the duration with U-21 reserve team.

“It was an unbelievable experience to be at Anfield, and have a chance to meet Philippe Coutinho and James Milner.”

Both he recollects were quite humble and fun to interact with.

By now his mind is back in England because he is grinning from ear to ear again. But he is quick to point out that the boys in Liverpool were technically far better and physically much stronger.

“All the players we interacted with on the exposure trip had begun playing from the U-6 or U-8 age groups.”

Chhangte’s young and strong shoulders along with his high work rate will no doubt be an asset to the Delhi Dynamos, but the man himself has other ambitions.

“I want to play for Chelsea. I am very happy that Alvaro Morata scored as they beat Manchester United just before the international break,” he signs off.

Its Chhangte’s cue to take responsibility and live up to the expectations, and make a mark like he has pointed out.
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