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A street footballer - William Lalnunfela - turns Aizawl FC's new hero

By Sujata Sarkar
A street footballer - William Lalnunfela - turns Aizawl FC's new hero

Imphal, Dec 8: William Lalnunfela started playing football made of papers tied with the rubber band in his childhood. His home was in a remote village around three-and-half hours far from Imphal.

His father was very poor, used to work as a driver in a small private organization. Along with his mother and two elder brothers, it was difficult for Lalnunfela’s father to run his family.

Lalnunfela did not have the privilege of buying the necessary gears like boots, hoarse, jersey in his childhood days. So he used to play barefoot on the street.

Later the 23-year old striker became highly popular in the street football and it was a key reason for him earning huge popularity with his dribbling skills.

Lalnunfela recently told MyKhel, “I cannot remember the exact time. But one evening at one of my neighbour’s houses I was watching the 2002 World Cup match on the television. I was amazed after watching Ronaldinho and from the very next day, I started trying to follow his famous dribbling. Later I found I was being able to dribble in the matches also. So I became popular in my district.”

In 2003, Lalnunfela became the highest scorer in his district league, striking 30 odd goals and during that time he was called 'dribbling master’ in Mizoram.

Lalnunfela had to change his attitude of always trying to hold on to the ball and dribble after he was recruited in the Pune FC academy in 2011 and started training under the careful observation of academy coach Ranjan Chowdhury.

Before guiding Pune FC academy towards under-20 I-League title twice, Lalnnunfela also played an important role in Mizoram’s history-making maiden Santosh Trophy triumph in 2014.

Playing for the Aizawl FC, this lanky striker has drawn attention at the start of the ongoing I-League by scoring a brace against fancied East Bengal in their first encounter.

Still, the striker reveals these statistics do not affect him. Rather he seemed humble and said, “The legend of Mizoram football Malswamtulunga Shylo (Mama) is our captain. Since childhood, every budding footballer like me in Mizoram has idolized him. After scoring goals against East Bengal, he patted my back and said 'well done'. That was the biggest inspiration I have got so far.”

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    Story first published: Friday, December 8, 2017, 12:48 [IST]
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