For Jeje Lalpekhlua, 2016 was a pivotal year in his ascent towards becoming the face of Indian football and, fans of the national team will hope, the catalyst for more success on the international stage. Jeje, 25, had a tremendous year starting with the South Asian Football Federation's (SAFF) Championship, which he helped India clinch, followed by goal-scoring records in the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) Cup and Federation Cup and being an I-League runner-up with Mohun Bagan.
He was also capped the All-India Football Association's (AIFF) Player of the Year and won the Times of India Sports Award (TOISA) for Footballer of the Year.
Speaking to TOI Sports during the ongoing I-League, Jeje reflected on 2016 and what lies ahead.
It was a successful year for me personally but I wish I could do better for the teams I played in. In 2016 our team Chennaiyin FC did not do well in the Indian Super League as compared to 2015 when we were the Champions. Mohun Bagan won the Federation Cup and it was a good performance but we would have liked to win the I-League as well.
Personally I was happy to receive the AIFF Player of the Year for the first time, and the Football Players Association of India's Indian Player of the Year and being the leading scorer in the Federation Cup. However there is still room for improvement.