Image Credits: @ISL
With Lalengmawia in midfield, things become easy. Ask NorthEast United FC, ask the Indian men’s football team and now ask Mumbai City FC. Wherever the 21-year-old midfielder has played, he has added great value to the central area of the pitch, the most crucial one on a football field.
So it was least surprising when he won the Emerging Player of the Year award in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) last season and followed that up with the Emerging Player of the Month prize.
Lalengmawia makes the game flow, he keeps things ticking in midfield and does so with minimum fuss. Not everyone is able to gauge the impact that the youngster is quietly making in a football match but take him out and the difference will be there to see.
At Mumbai City FC, Lalengmawia has seamlessly slotted into the deeper role in midfield and made them function like a team that’s been playing together for years and made head coach Des Buckingham’s job a lot easier.
Ahead of the team’s match against Chennaiyin FC, indiansuperleague.com caught up with the midfielder for an exclusive chat.
Here are the excerpts from the interview.
It's been a big few months for you. Playing regularly for the Indian national team and then being an integral part of Mumbai City FC? How has the feeling been? How are you coping with the success?
I am really happy that I can help my teams out, whether at the national team or at my club Mumbai City FC. I have not achieved success yet. We have only played five matches in the season, so there is a long way to go for us.
You won the Emerging Player of the Month award. What were the reactions of your teammates?
My teammates were very happy for me winning the award, but it’s because of them I got this award and I am very lucky to have them by my side.
How different is it playing in NorthEast United FC midfield with someone like Khassa Camara last season and playing in Mumbai City FC midfield with someone like Ahmed Jahouh?
I don’t like comparing players. Each player is different so it wouldn’t be right to compare these two players. Both of them taught me different things and helped me improve my game.
You are playing in a deeper role that allows Jahouh more freedom up field. It's a very crucial position. How do you cope with the pressure that comes with it?
I am comfortable with whatever position my coach and my team want me to play. I try to give my best wherever I play and help the team. Pressure is a part of the game so we must accept it and play to our best abilities.
Who was your idol while growing up?
Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets. I like Messi because of his skills on the ball, his movement, intelligence and just generally the way he plays the game. I like Busquets’ calmness and the way he controls the game and reads the game.
Who has been a big influence in your time at Mumbai City FC so far?
Our coach Des Buckingham has been very encouraging, supportive, and helpful for players. He is a big influence on me.
Tell us about your journey from a football loving child to a professional footballer?
I started playing football at an early age. I remember there was a trial for the Fifa U-17 World Cup squad. That was the turning point for me and that was the time I really thought of becoming a professional footballer. My parents always supported me in every way possible, even when they did not have money for clothes but always made sure to buy boots and footballs. They are the reason I am here, so I want to thank them for being there for me.