Mumbai City FC winger Lallianzuala Chhangte revealed that head coach Des Buckingham promised to transform him into a better player when he signed for the Islanders in 2022. Chhangte joined Mumbai City FC on a loan deal from Chennaiyin FC midway during the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season. It took Chhangte some time to settle into Buckingham’s system. The Mizoram-born played seven games for MCFC that campaign, but did not register any goal contributions. 

“Coach Des (Buckingham) promised me that he will build me into a different player and make be better, both as a footballer and a human. Since the first day I joined, we have been analysing what I’ve done in the past and what I am good at,” Chhangte was quoted as saying by The Times of India.

Chhangte then inked a permanent deal with Mumbai City FC ahead of the 2022-23 season and took his game to another level. He emerged as the top scorer in the 2022 Durand Cup, helping Mumbai City FC reach the final.

The 26-year-old continued his stellar form in the Hero ISL as MCFC lifted the League Shield, tallying 10 goals and six assists across 22 games. Finishing as the top Indian goalscorer in the Hero ISL last season, Chhangte was awarded the Hero of the League award.

“We were collecting and analysing data from training and matches. We did extra work, particularly with finishing, crossing and decision-making in the final third. All this has helped me a lot. I want to give credit to the coach, assistant coach, all the staff who helped me get to where I am right now. We have been working really, really hard,” he revealed.

Earlier in July, Chhangte was adjudged as the AIFF Men’s Player of the Year, winning the accolade for the first time. But while he has come a long way, there was a time when things weren’t going his way. During the Hero ISL 2021-22 season, Chhangte struggled for form at Chennaiyin FC.

He featured in 12 games for the two-time Hero ISL champions that season and netted just one goal. He eventually fell down the pecking order and then decided to pursue a new challenge when Mumbai City FC came calling.

“This is the phase that you need to face in order to move to a different level, become a different person. I have seen this struggle. That pushed me every single day,” Chhangte recalled.

However, despite his achievements last season, Chhangte doesn’t want to rest on his laurels.

“When I joined Mumbai (City FC), I was in an uncomfortable zone as I had to compete with two-three players (in the same position), that helped me get to where I am. I cannot just sit back, be comfortable that the coach trusts me. Every day I wake up knowing I have to do even better.”