Chennai, August 30, 2019: Chennaiyin FC today completed the signing of 22-year-old India international Lallianzuala Chhangte on a free transfer, making him the club’s seventh summer signing. The Mizo winger signed a permanent long-term contract after a two-year spell at Delhi Dynamos FC and a recent trial with Norwegian top-flight side Viking FK.
In conversation with the club from the sidelines of the Indian national team camp ahead of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers next month, Chhangte expressed his delight on signing for the two-time ISL champions. “Chennaiyin have achieved a lot in the last few years, and my ambition is to play an important role in adding to their success. Our immediate focus will be to bring the club back to the top and repay the passionate fanbase for their unconditional support. I will do everything to repay the coach’s faith in me, and also focus on my development in the process,” said a determined Chhangte.
Capped 11 times by the senior national team, Chhangte reflected on how it all began from his humble background. “As a village boy from Mizoram, I didn’t have a chance to play in the big grounds and stadiums. I only played on the streets. Taking up football professionally was not on my mind, until the Sports Department initiated a ‘Catch Them Young’ program in my hometown of Lunglei. When I joined the academy, that’s when I felt I should make this my aim and pathway. I always trusted in God, listened to my parents and gave my best through hard work and dedication. It has definitely not been an easy journey, but I’m very happy with where I am, and I obviously have a long, long way to go!”
“Having the likes of Jeje (Lalpekhlua) Bhai, Jerry (Lalrinzuala) and Dinliana (Laldinliana Renthlei) who are also from Mizoram, along with so many of the others whom I already know, will surely help me settle quickly into the new team. It will also help a lot on the pitch, as Mizo is very difficult to understand for other players!” said Chhangte, who will don the No. 7 jersey at CFC.
Chhangte’s potential was recognized when he was picked by the DSK Shivajians Liverpool International Football Academy in 2014. He impressed greatly in his time there by top-scoring in the 2014-15 U-19 I-League with 16 goals, while also enjoying a brief training spell at the Liverpool youth academy in England. He represented the India U-19s and U-23s during that period while also receiving his first ISL break with a loan move to NorthEast United FC for the 2016 campaign.
“I love to play as a winger, because as a kid I used to enjoy using my speed and taking on opponents one-on-one. When I was called up to the India U-19s, our coach then Lee Johnson, he put me on the wings and I developed further,” he shared.
Chhangte was a constant presence on the Delhi Dynamos flanks over the previous two ISL seasons. With eight goals and four assists in 36 appearances, his stock continued to rise. And also impressing for the national team with four goals in 11 appearances so far, he recently scored in India’s 5-2 loss to North Korea in the Hero Intercontinental Cup last month.
“Representing your country is the best thing one can do. My most memorable footballing moment will always be the first goal I scored for India, against Nepal in the 2015 SAFF Championships. Not everyone gets the opportunity and privilege to play for their country, so I will never take it for granted. It will be my constant endeavour to work hard and make Indian football lovers proud, wearing the national team colours,” the Mizo speedster reflected.
Chhangte also recently attended a trial with Viking FK from the Norwegian top-flight, adding to his exposure in the off-season.
“I gained a lot of experience there (in Norway), strengthening myself physically as well as mentally. The coaches helped me a lot on what aspects of my game I must be improving. Also, the players there were also really friendly and down-to-earth,” he looked back on his brief time in Norway.
Chennaiyin’s latest recruit will join up with the squad in pre-season in Ahmedabad later in September, following his national team involvement in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Oman and Qatar on September 5 and September 10 respectively.