From the football field to the field of politics, Jeje Lalpekhlua Fanai continues to surge ahead. Months after hanging up his boots, the former India forward emerged victorious in the Mizoram assembly elections, winning from the South Tuipui constituency for the Zoram People's Movement (ZPM). Jeje edged out Mizoram health minister and Mizo National Front candidate R Lalthangliana to secure the rousing win. (Football News)
The 32-year-old had retired in February this year after an 11-year-long tryst with international and club football. Within a month, he joined ZPM and has now won the South Tuipui seat for the principal opposition party in the state.
"Becoming an MLA was not my dream. All I wanted to see is an end to poverty and hunger. Until I retired from professional football, I was not interested in politics. Even when I was playing for clubs and the country, political parties invited me but I rejected their offers," Jeje was quoted as saying by the Times Of India.
During his playing days, Jeje was a central figure in the Indian national football team. He made his Blue Tigers debut in 2011 and scored 23 goals in 56 international games, with his last appearance dating back to 2019. In the domestic club scene, Jeje played for ATK Mohun Bagan, Chennaiyin FC and East Bengal, among others.
Jeje was best known for his spell at Chennaiyin FC, where he won two Indian Super League titles and the emerging player of the year award in 2015. He also holds the record for the most goals scored for the Marina Machans.
He was crowned the AIFF Footballer of the year in 2016 and clinched the SAFF titles thrice. The ex-striker also managed to win a Federation Cup, an Intercontinental Cup, a Tri-Nation series, and the I-League title.