Jerry: A left-back with the right attitude

Starting to play football as a left winger and then shifting to left back as per his coach's advice, Jerry Lalrinzuala has won the 'Emerging Player award' six times in the Indian Super League.

Name: Jerry Lalrinzuala

From: Mizoram

Age: 19.

Education: Standard X

Discipline: Football.

Mentor: H. Vanlalthlanga “Thlanga”

Favourite Football players: Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan and Jeje Lalpekhlua.

Aim: To play for India senior team on a regular basis.

The beginning: After coming back from school, I used to play football outside my home. At that time, my parents didn’t support me. Later on, seeing my interest, they began to provide full encouragement. I used to go to trials to Delhi and Kolkata for selection. At 12 years, twice I wasn’t selected. I was wondering whether I should go back to education. When I was 13 years (2012), I was selected to represent the state of Mizoram. I was thrilled. I started as a left winger but my first coach Moya told me to play left-back and I accepted it.

Family:

My father Lalbiaksanga was an armyman and used to play for Army football. He quit army and joined Mizoram Police. He gave me full support. They see all my matches whenever it is possible. My mother Lalzemawii is a home-maker. It was a quite a struggle while growing up. My parents were happy to see me succeed in football. I played football to help my family.

Career graph:

Senior national team: Played for India in the Asian Cup qualifiers (2017-18).

Youth football: Has represented India in U-13, U-16, U-19. Was part of the Indian team which won the SAFF U-16 Cup in Nepal in 2014. He scored the solitary goal in the triumph against the host.

ISL: Has played for Chennaiyin FC as a left-back in two of the four editions of Indian Super League. He was part of the Chennaiyin team which won the ISL in 2017-18. Received the Emerging Player of the Year award for a credible six times in the ISL.

What they say:

Lalzemawii (mother): “We are very proud to see Jerry playing at a professional level at such a young age. He must continue to work hard and be humble always.”

Lalbiaksanga (father): “It is a great feeling and a source of pride to have seen Jerry play for the National team. We wish he continues to do well for the club and the country.”

Thlanga (Mentor): “I spotted him when he was 12. He was small and his physique was not great but his mindset was good even at that age. Right from a very young age, you can see that he was a good footballer. He was always skilful to start with. When he came back from India U-16 set-up, he used to come and train with my boys at Chanmari FC. I, then, fielded him in the Mizoram Premier League with Chanmari to get some experience in senior football. I think it has helped him play a tough brand of football in the ISL.

“I expected Jerry to have a good career. The boys who trained under me have a good structure in place in front of them to take the right steps. He also got good exposure during his stint with Metz and also at the AIFF Elite Academy. Playing in Mizoram alone wouldn’t have helped his development. He was trying really hard to play abroad during his younger age. I don’t know if that will happen but he is still trying. You need that kind of mentality in football.”