Lalengmawia gets ‘moral’ support from Balotelli after revealing his admiration for the Italian striker
NorthEast United FC midfielder Lalengmawia had an unforgettable Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) season in 2020-21 and impressed one all with his control and calmness on the pitch as the Highlanders made their second-ever semi-final in the history of the league.
The 20-year-old in Jersey No.45 won important accolades like Emerging Player of the Season as well as Hero-of-the-Month award for February. He is the only Indian player to have won the Hero-of-the-Month award this season.
This season, he also became the youngest captain in league history at 20 years and 44 days when he led his troops out against FC Goa in November. After making waves through his game for the Highlanders during their time in the league, Lalengmawia made the headlines again recently when he revealed why he chose Jersey No.45 for himself.
“No. 45 is my favourite number because of one man -- Mario Balotelli [Italy striker who has also played for big clubs like Manchester City, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Liverpool et cetera, et cetera]. I like him a lot and admire his confidence and calmness. He never panics. That’s why I chose number 45 for my jersey and will continue with it,” he said in an interview with AIFF TV.
And in a big boost to his morale, Balotelli, ever ready to inspire young footballers, reacted to a Lalengmawia post on Instagram through ‘flexed biceps’ emojis shortly after the latter made his admiration for the Italian public.
By virtue of his performances in the 2020-21 season, Lalengmawia, fondly known as Apuia, also succeeded in getting a maiden call-up to the 27-member national team as the Blue Tigers, under Igor Stimac, are set to play international friendlies against Oman and the United Arab Emirates on March 25 and March 29 respectively in Dubai.
In the recently concluded season, Lalengmawia featured in all 22 games for NorthEast United FC and boasted a passing accuracy of 74.47% before ATK Mohun Bagan got the better of them following a 2-1 win in the second leg of Semi-final 2. Besides scoring a goal, Lalengmawia also came up with 93 tackles, 46 interceptions, 23 clearances as well as 23 blocks. He enjoyed a very successful campaign with the Highlanders and no doubt will look to do the same with the Indian national team.