ISL 2018: Lalruatthara rejected offers from Jamshedpur FC, Mumbai City FC before signing contract extension with Kerala Blasters
He may have impressed a host of scouts with his performances, but the passion of the Kerala Blasters fans made his final decision easy.
Kerala Blasters may not have had the best of results in the recently-concluded ISL season, but their passionate fan base has helped the Kochi-based club retain one of their top players after Mizo defender Lalruatthara recently signed a three-year contract extension with the club.
That was no the only offer that the 23-year-old had before he penned the deal with Kerala Blasters, though. In fact, Mumbai City FC, Jamshedpur FC, along with three other top ISL clubs had also tabled deals for Lalruatthara, with one of them even offering him a three-year contract worth Rs 3 crore.
However, 'Tthara' or 'Lalu', as he is fondly called by his teammates, rejected these mega-deals, in order to extend his stay with Kerala Blasters, who were offering him a little over Rs 2.5 crores for the same duration.
When asked about why he decided to stay back at the Kochi-based club despite having better offers from elsewhere, Lalruatthara said that it was the passionate fan-base of Kerala Blasters that finally convinced him to sign the deal.
"Just like back in Mizoram, the Kerala fans are also very passionate about football. There's not much difference between the two states with this regard," Lalruatthara, whose deals are managed by Football Solutions, told Sportskeeda. "It's just amazing how we get almost 40,000 fans in every home game.
"Aizawl have an amazing fan base too, though it (the attendance) was always around 10,000 at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium. But that is probably because the population in Aizawl is not as much as Kerala. Otherwise, the passion for football here is just like it was back home," he said.
Incidentally, this new deal means that Lalruatthara will triple his wages; he was picked up for Rs 25 lakh during the player drafts last season. This is a huge jump for someone who hails from a family of farmers in the Champhai district in Mizoram, not too far away from the Indo-Myanmar border.
"As a player, I feel a lot more secure when I get a contract like this. It makes a lot of difference to my family as well," he said. "You'll see a lot of younger players being tied down by big clubs on long-term contracts these days. This is a change for the better. It proves that Indian football is moving in the right direction."
Indian football certainly seems to be picking up the pace, with regards to making a more professional setup out of the ecosystem. Previously, the Indian players have mostly been getting one-year deals from their clubs, which barely gave them any guarantees for the future to play and improve under one setup and express themselves.
Now, however, the young and talented players like Lalruatthara are reaping the rewards of having such an ecosystem, where they can earn long-term contracts through good performances.