Right at the eve of the Philippine Azkals’ World Cup 2022 qualifier match against Syria, the country’s best goalscorer ever, Phil Younghusband, announced his retirement from the beautiful game which he posted via social media.
After a lengthy absence from football beginning on the end of the 2018 Copa Paulino Alcantara when his club Davao Aguilas lost in the final against Kaya FC Iloilo, which was further lengthened after being married and adjusting to the new lifestyle, it seems one of Philippines’ most recognizable sportsmen decided to hang up his boots for good.
The 32-year-old Filipino footballer was born in Surrey, England to a Filipino mother and an English father, and along with his older brother James Younghusband, began their young career within famous London-based club Chelsea FC’s youth ranks before embarking on and blazing a trail towards a fruitful and influential career in the Philippines beginning in 2009, playing with San Beda FC, Loyola Meralco Sparks (later known as Meralco Manila), and Davao Aguilas.
But Phil Younghusband’s biggest contribution to Philippine Football is his involvement with the Azkals which started in 2007 when he, along with brother James, decided to represent their mother’s roots, the Philippines, in international competition from the U21 side up until the senior squad.
A reliable and confident finisher in front of goal, Phil eventually racked up goals almost at will until amassing 52 conversions under his name which became the most scored for the Philippines in history.
His most important moment for the Philippines was scoring the second goal in the 79th minute against hosts Vietnam in the group stage of the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, a major upset that has been dubbed as “Miracle of Hanoi” which then further boosted the country’s already newfound renaissance in international football.
Such was the immensity of his contributions to the squad that he also became the most capped player ever for the Southeast Asian nation with 108 in total.
An unexpected surprise
After Phil’s post, an outpouring of reactions and plaudits immediately came in reply from fans and colleagues alike, most especially from the football community such as former teammates and coaches.
Photo credit: The Philippine Football Federation