Chennaiyin FC's trusted striker, Jeje Lalpekhlua, last played a competitive game more than a year ago when he featured in a 1-0 win over Abahani Dhaka in the AFC Cup. With a knee injury plaguing him, Jeje had to undergo surgery and was forced to miss the entirety of the 2019-20 season.
At a time when the country has been crying out for goalscoring Indian strikers, it has been a frustrating period for Jeje who has had to watch from the sidelines.
However, the Mizo Sniper, is raring to go after a period of rehabilitation. In a chat with Goal, Jeje outlines how important it is for him to play regularly and represent the national team again.
"Life is like that. When you get injured, you look for anything that can help you. Though it is hard, you need to accept it (the injury) and work hard. Whatever you did before does not matter. It's like that even during normal times. One day you could perform well and you can play bad the next day. People will only remember the latest performance. You need to keep performing well.
"After getting inured, I knew it would be tough. After the surgery, it was very difficult. I needed to work hard, eat well, rest well and prepare for the new season. Now, my aim is to come back and do well for the club and the national team," he said.
The 29-year-old has been a dedicated servant for Chennaiyin FC ever since the inception of the Indian Super League (ISL), scoring 23 goals over five seasons and helping the Marina Machans to two ISL titles.
"What I want to do is get back my fitness. It's not about scoring goals or playing every match. Getting fit is my first target. Everything else will follow," he stated.
However, the former Mohun Bagan forward is a free agent right now after his contract with the Chennai-based club ran out. Though he is currently focused on getting back to fitness, he is in talks with several prospective employers including Chennaiyin FC.
"Right now, I'm talking with six clubs. (But) I've not taken any decision on my next move. My agent is taking care of things. We have time to make a decision and do not have to rush into anything. I will decide soon. Let's see," he revealed.
It will be interesting to see where Jeje, who has been one of the most prolific Indian strikers in the last decade or so, decides to play next season.