MANILA, Philippines – Brothers Phil and James Younghusband hope they can impact the Philippine football arena even after they have stopped playing for the men’s national football team.
Both Phil and James have been mainstays on the Philippine Azkals since making their debut in 2006. They were both members of the 2010 team that made history in the AFF Suzuki Cup, with Phil famously scoring the first goal in a 2-0 victory against Vietnam.
While both brothers have been invaluable to the rise of football in the country, they are hoping to make a bigger impact even after leaving the Azkals and create a lasting legacy in the sport.
“At the end of the day, we know it’s football, and our whole lives, since we were three years old, have been about football,” Phil said in an interview on ANC’s "Headstart" on Monday. “From now on, until the end, it will be about football.”
“We are still in our playing careers,” James said. “And we have our targets. I think Phil, he wants to score as many goals as he can for the Philippines, and me, I want to make as many number of appearances as I can. My target is 100.”
James has made 55 appearances for the national team, scoring seven goals. Phil, meanwhile, holds the national goal-scoring record, with 33 in 48 appearances.
“So in the long term, I want to be like the (Manchester United stars) Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes, or (Chelsea stars) Frank Lampard and John Terry of our local club football here,” James said. “We want to be here for a very long time and leave a legacy here.”
The Younghusband brothers have already started making their mark on the local grassroots football scene through the Chelsea Soccer School Philippines, which is run by The Younghusband Football Academy.
“The academy is something that, after we’ve stopped playing, we want to concentrate on full time and give 100% to,” Phil explained.
“When James and I can’t play anymore, we have young kids becoming national team players, and we can watch them grow into the next football stars,” he added. “Once we’ve stopped playing, coaching and being with the kids will be something that we definitely want to focus on.”
Right now, many members of the Azkals are still based overseas, but Phil and James believe this will change in the future as football continues to grow in the country.
“As time goes by, the league will get stronger, the coaching will get stronger, the grassroots program will get stronger, and eventually, the kids, the players, will become better,” Phil said.
“Right now, bringing in players from abroad is more of a short-term goal. But football is growing so fast, and in five to 10 years’ time, we can be seeing a team with everyone based here in the Philippines,” he added.