By Kevin Sox
Philippines football national team and Cardiff City goal keeper Neil Etheridge bared plans for the future of his career in the sport during a visit in Manila last May.
The 29-year-old Filipino-British keeper said he intends on being part of the Azkals full-time when the squad kicks off their FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers campaign later this year.
“I want to be part of the Azkals going into the World Cup Qualifiers. I decided to play for the Philippines at 18 years old. I’m 29 now. So (since) 11 years ago, I’ve been with that team,” said Etheridge to ABS-CBN Sports.
Etheridge also shared with members of the press that there have been slight criticism when he joined Cardiff City in the Premier League.
The keeper had an impressive campaign for the club, and ended up being hailed Player of the Year by Cardiff City fans.
But he clarified in a straightforward statement that he will always suit up for the national team if possible.
“People have said, ‘Is he just gonna play Premier League football and just drop the Azkals?’ No, because I’ve been a part of that team for 11 years, and you don’t just drop something after 11 years,” said Etheridge.
Etheridge has 62 caps for the Philippines, and has competed in some of the top competitions for the Azkals throughout his national team career.
He was part of the historic squad that made it to the AFC Asian Cup 2019, although club commitments rendered him unavailable for the prestigious tournament last January.
“I want to be a part of (the Azkals), I want to move it forward, I’d love to have the responsibility, not just from the Premier League … I want to have a responsibility here,” said Etheridge.
“Moving forward, I want to continue being part of the Azkals. I feel like I’ve got a lot more to give.”