Lalengmawia, or Apuia Ralte as he is fondly known, has joined Mumbai City FC from NorthEast United FC after the two clubs agreed a transfer deal for an undisclosed fee.
The promising young midfielder joins the defending Indian Super League (ISL) champions on a five-year contract until May 2026.
Apuia rose through the ranks of the AIFF Elite Academy and made his name after being the only player from Mizoram to make it to India’s squad for the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup.
After two hugely impressive seasons in the I League with the Indian Arrows, where Apuia made 13 appearances and scored one goal, the central midfielder signed for NorthEast United FC ahead of the 2019-20 season.
Apuia played 10 matches in his inaugural season for NorthEast United FC and has become a regular since then. In the recently concluded 2020-21 season, he played in 22 games and scored a memorable goal – a strike from a distance - in his club’s run to the semi-finals.
Apuia – a natural leader
Apuia’s leadership skills were there to see. He was a natural leader on and off the pitch and soon became the youngest captain in ISL history when he led NorthEast United FC.
His skills also earned him ISL’s Emerging Player of the Season award and the FPAI Young Player of the Season award for 2020-21.
It was only a matter of time before he donned the Indian jersey. His outstanding performances in the domestic season earned him a call-up to the Indian team for the match against Oman earlier this year, which ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
Apuia joins Mumbai City FC ahead of a historic season with a chance to defend both the ISL League Winners’ Shield and the ISL Trophy, and represent India at the 2022 AFC Champions League.
The prospect of playing with a leading club and working with a good strategic coach Sergio Lobera are some of the things that Apuia is looking forward to.
In a statement shared by the club, Apuia said:
“I want to thank NorthEast United for giving me the opportunity to play at the highest level in India but now, I feel I am ready to take the next step in my career.
"Joining a club of Mumbai City’s stature is a huge honor for me and for my family. The club has the ambition and the intent, not just to win titles in India but to make a mark in Asia as well and I want to be a part of it. The club had a hugely successful last season and I believe we’re on the right path to building something special here.
" I am still young, I have a lot to learn and I am looking forward to getting to work with the coach Sergio Lobera, his staff and my new teammates.”
Mumbai City FC coach Sergio Lobera was elated to have a player of Apuia’s stature under his wings. He said:
“A player of Apuia's caliber brings a lot of quality to the team and reminds us that if you are good enough, you are old enough. He is an exciting talent, possibly the best of his generation, and he is the right type of individual that we want at Mumbai City.
"There is no doubt that there is great maturity and flair in the way he plays his football and we want to give Apuia the right platform and the right guidance to become the exceptional player that he can be at Mumbai City for years to come. I am pleased to welcome Apuia to the club and I wish him all the good health and success.”
The ISL commences on November 19, with the final set to be played in March 2022.