Indian footballers are being valued much more since the advent of the Indian Super League (ISL), says India striker Jeje Lalpekhlua who believes financial security as a result of playing in the league has helped strengthen his mental resolve while being out injured.
The Mizoram-born last featured for Chennaiyin FC in April 2019 and had to miss out on the entire 2019-20 season due to a knee injury. Lalpekhlua feels he could focus on his recovery much better as his off-field matters were taken care of by the club, a change in attitude in Indian clubs towards players brought about by the ISL.
“We run a family and have other commitments too. I could not play for one year but the money was coming on time. I have to thank the club there. That really helped my recovery. We give everything to the club and I feel we deserve to be looked after,” Lalpekhlua told ISL Media.
The ‘Mizo Sniper’ had remained a one-club man with Chennaiyin FC, scoring 23 ISL goals in five seasons, until the end of his contract this summer.
“It is very difficult for a player both mentally and physically when you are injured. The club and the players have to work together. The clubs have now started valuing the players much more. In the past, there have been times when players failed to get support from their clubs when injured, this becomes very difficult for the player,” he said.
Lalpekhlua, who began his career in 2009 as an 18-year-old at Pune FC felt levels of professionalism has got better in Indian football ever since the ISL came about in 2014.
“I think nowadays Indian football has changed a lot. Things have been getting better day by day and I hope this gets better. In the ISL, clubs support players way better when you are injured or face any difficult situation. This is very important for both clubs and the players to grow,” he said.