“I never thought I’d score so many goals” - Lalrinzuala Lalbiaknia on surpassing Sunil Chhetri’s record in I-League

Lalrinzuala Lalbiaknia. (Credit: Aizawl FC/Instagram)
Lalrinzuala Lalbiaknia. (Credit: Aizawl FC/Instagram)

Lalrinzuala Lalbiaknia, the 23-year-old Mizoram forward, stole the spotlight after he surpassed Sunil Chhetri’s goalscoring record in the ongoing I-League 2023-24 season. The Aizawl FC attacker has so far scored 15 goals from 19 appearances in what is his debut I-League season.

Notably, he has surpassed the likes of Sunil Chhetri (14 goals in Bengaluru FC’s title-winning season in 2013-14), Bhaichung Bhutia (14 in 1996-97) and Jeje Lalpekhlua (12 in 2010-11) in terms of most goals scored by an Indian in an I-League season.

Currently, he is just one goal behind the ongoing I-League season's top-scorer, Alejandro Sanchez of Gokulam Kerala FC, who has 16 goals.

“I never thought I’d score so many goals when I joined Aizawl at the start of the season. My personal aim was to score maybe five or six for Aizawl. I did not even think that I would get to start so many matches,” he said as quoted by AIFF's official website.
“But the atmosphere here at Aizawl is very friendly. We all feel at home here, because all of us are like friends,” he added.

“It was a very difficult period for me” - Lalrinzuala Lalbiaknia

After starting his journey on the streets of Mizoram, Rinzuala got an opportunity to play in the Subroto Cup before making it to the Bengaluru FC Academy, representing them at the U16 and U18 levels.

Unfortunately, he faced a tragedy in 2016 when his father passed away before losing his elder brother in an accident. His woes continued after suffering an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury in 2018, ruling him out of action for 11 months.

“It was a very difficult period for me, we were all emotionally down. My mother started a chicken farm after that, and that has sustained our family since. As for my injury, it took me a long time to get back to playing football. It was an uncertain period, but I’m happy that I’ve put that past me now. I don’t like to dwell much on it nowadays. It’s better to keep looking forward,” he stated.

After featuring as a reserve for Gokulam Kerala for three seasons, Rinzuala opted to play for the local Chhinga Veng in the Mizoram Premier League in 2022. After his decent show in the MPL, he joined Aizawl FC in I-League.

“It was a good moment to finally make it to the I-League. I can now provide for my family, which is the most important thing for me,” he said. “I also have the added advantage of playing professionally from home. I think coming back here has helped me a lot. It helped take my mind away from other things, and now I can focus on football. I am much calmer now, than what I was a few years back,” he emphasized.

Furthermore, Rinzuala is eyeing to make it to the national team in the near future, courtesy of his exceptional performances in the I-League.

“Right now, I think the most important thing is for me to make it to the National Team. I know that’s still some distance away, but that’s where I want to be,” he concluded.

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Edited by Sankalp Srivastava
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