By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THEIR PLAYING DAYS may be over but the journey in football by Phil and James Younghusband is not about done.
Following the announcement of James to retire from the game last week, in follow up to Phil, who called it a career in 2019, a noteworthy era in Philippine football came to an end.
Made their way to the country from England by way of the sport in 2005 as members of the Under-23 squad that saw action at the Southeast Asian Games that year, the Younghusbands from there made waves in the local football scene.
They were credited for leading a batch of footballers who paved the way for the renewed interest in the sport.
The brothers were steady fixtures in the Philippine Azkals, the country’s national team, up to the time they hung up their boots, and were proven winners in the local football club scene.
But while they have decided to retire from playing, the passion for the sport that has given them a lot is still very much alive, something they hope to ride on as they embark on a new chapter in their lives.
“I think we still have a lot to offer Philippine football whether that’s next year or the year after. We don’t know but we still have something to offer,” said Phil in their recent guesting on Tiebreaker Vods’ Crossover podcast.
For James, coaching is something he is angling to explore, with the end view of further contributing to the growth of the sport in the country.
“My plans were to look at the scenario… I wanna travel to different countries and learn different ways of styles of football, coaching football. So I wanna get back to the UK, get to coaching there, speak to our contacts at Chelsea if I can gain some experience there, gain some knowledge there and also look to go to the US as well,” he said.
Adding, “My goal was always to help develop Philippine football and to go abroad, learn and come and share that to the Philippines.”
Sharing his knowledge and experience, too, is something new father Phil is looking at for the immediate future.
“James and I have always said a lot of our knowledge and experience were gained at Chelsea football club. We were able to watch the best players in the world every day, the best facilities, being under the best coaches in the world and most of our knowledge and experience has come from that but we feel if we want to grow in the sport and we want to help develop football even more in the Philippines, we need to gain more knowledge, more experience and be able to bring it back again to the Philippines,” he said.
The Younghusbands are no longer strangers to sharing their knowledge, involving themselves in various football training activities throughout the years.
And the brothers underscored the need to give back to the sport and build on the gains Philippine football has achieved in the last decade, even enjoining their other teammates in the Azkals to also do their share in imparting their knowledge.
They may have hung up their boots but the Younghusbands said theirs was a good run and as they ride into the sunset they are very satisfied.
“I think what made me and Phil, it sounds cheesy but it’s true, the Philippines is a very family-oriented country and they like seeing siblings like us work together … I think we like to send that message that football is a team sport and me and Phil really promoted that with kids getting to the sport because of what me and my brother and the rest of the Azkals did,” said James.
“We want to be remembered as good football players who were in good successful teams for the Philippine national team and we had a really good connection with the Filipino people as well,” Phil, for his part, said.