Earlier, Lalengmawia had said in an interview with AIFF TV that he chose 45 as the number of his jersey only because of the Italian.
''45 -- it's my favourite number because of one man, Mario Balotelli. 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," Lalengmawia said.
Following that, Mario Balotelli responded to the Aizawl-born player on Instagram and showed his support. He commented:
Lalengmawia adjudged ISL 2020-21's Emerging Player of the Season
Lalengmawia 'Apuia' Ralte was one of several young faces to shine in the recently-concluded Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21. Apuia was rightly adjudged the 'Emerging Player of the Season' for his exemplary passing, vision, and blocking abilities in the defensive midfield for NorthEast United FC.
He played a crucial role in taking the Highlanders to a top-four finish for the second time in their short club history.
Lalengmawia played 22 matches for the Highlanders and had over 1000 touches on the ball throughout the season. Unlike most Indian central defensive midfielders, Apuia likes to play with the ball and prefers to move quickly.
Besides, he has also done his fair share of defensive duties for his side. The youngster made 46 interceptions, 93 tackles, 23 blocks, and 23 clearances in the 22 ISL matches that he appeared in this season.
Following his scintillating show, Lalengmawia has been called to the Indian national team preparatory camp in Dubai for the international friendlies against Oman and UAE on March 25 and 29 respectively.
Igor Stimac's decision to include the Mizo player in his plans could see him make his national team debut this month. The defensive midfielder is also in the news for a possible permanent transfer move to ATK Mohun Bagan FC from NorthEast United FC.