SO, have you found the kid?” I asked James Younghusband during his last visit to Cebu back in 2008.
James, who was on his way to Boljoon with Chad Gould, had a wry smile and said, “Nope, we still haven’t.”
Two years before that, in 2006, I threw the question at Phil during his first visit to Cebu.
“I still have no idea who he is.”
I asked Phil if, in the outside chance he’d discover the kid’s identity, what would he do?
“Buy him a new Play Station?”
Who’s the kid?
Well, he’s the kid who helped save Philippine football.
There are a lot of Fil-Foreigners in the team, and most of them got discovered by teammates, coaches and scouts.
But did you ever wonder how the Philippines learned there were a couple of Fil-Brits in the Chelsea reserves in 2004?
That’s where the kid, who’s probably in his late teens by now, comes in.
The story goes that back in 2004, a bored Chelsea fan was fiddling with his game
lineup of his football manager game when he discovered that the Younghusbands had a Filipina for a mother.
The kid’s discovery reached the Philippine Football Federation—as to how, we may never know. The PFF, in turn, contacted Chelsea.
And guess what? After one game, Phil, James and the rest of the Chelsea reserves were joking about the possibility of the brothers playing for the Philippines when they got the call from the PFF.
“We were just having fun,” Phil (or was it James?) said in a press conference during the Southeast Asian Games. “We were talking about us representing the Philippines when somebody told us we had a phone call asking if we would like to play for the Philippines.”
The rest, as the cliché goes, is history.
But boy, if I find that kid, I’d give him anything he wants.
Thank you, whoever you are.
VIETNAM EUPHORIA. The team’s victory against Vietnam has brought Philippine football to the mainstream. It has raised an awareness the sport has never before seen.
I was jumping for joy as the commentators talked on incredulously about the
Philippines taking the lead with that impossible header by Chris Greatwich.
Phil’s goal, which came after his brilliant shot was stopped, put me in heaven.
In the Myanmar vs. Philippines game, I was with Tina Matteo and Dr. Joel Pascual (who should have been there in Vietnam had his son Paolo Pascual got the OK to join the team), Mr. Foot Note, a few fans who I didn’t know but share the same passion. Noel, who’s probably the first fan in Cebu to buy the Mizuno jersey, got an apt gift for his birthday—a semis spot.
I jeered at Ian Araneta’s misses, but in hindsight, I shouldn’t have. But alcohol and the frustration were building up. Araneta, who was 19 when Indonesia mangled the Azkals, 13-1, is probably more disappointed with his missed chances than me.
Just last week, all this, seemed impossible. I could probably safely dare to run butt-naked if the Azkals make the semis.
All these were made possible because of Dan Palami, the man who saved Philippine football.
Like the kid, Mr. Palami, doesn’t want publicity. He’s even listed as the team manager instead of his correct designation—the savior of RP football.
Thank you Mr. Palami.
The hard-working players, led by co-captains Alexander Borromeo and Chieffy Caligdong, deserve praises too along with coach Simon McMenemy.
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