Fabio Cannavaro, the 2006 World Player of the Year, poses with Chelsea FC legend Dennis Wise after the press conference for the Clear Dream Match. --- Handout photo
MANILA, Philippines – Two football legends are in Manila to participate in the second edition of the Clear Dream Match along with Phil and James Younghusband as well as other top local footballers and celebrities.
Fabio Cannavaro, who won the 2006 World Cup with Italy, and Dennis Wise, one of the best players in the history of Chelsea football club, will both play in the Clear Dream Match this Saturday at the University of Makati stadium.
“It’s very rainy here, a bit like England, so I feel like I’m at home,” said Wise, a central-midfielder who scored 53 goals in 332 appearances for the Blues. “The people are very nice, and they’ve been very kind to us. I’m looking forward to the training and looking forward to enjoying the game.”
“It’s my first time in the Philippines, and I met very nice people, and I ate very good food,” said Cannavaro, a central-back who earned the nickname “The Berlin Wall” for his prowess on the defensive end. “But I want to be back when the weather is much better.”
Both Cannavaro and Wise are eagerly looking forward to Saturday’s games, which will see the Italian play for James Younghusband’s side, while Wise will play alongside Phil Younghusband.
Fabio Cannavaro, James Younghusband, Phil Younghusband and Dennis Wise after the press conference for the Clear Dream Match. --- Handout photo
Team Phil won the inaugural edition of the Clear Dream Match, 5-1, last year.
“I’m here to win,” Wise stressed. “Last year the result was 5-1, we’re trying to make it 6-1 this year. They’ve got the Berlin Wall (Cannavaro) on their side, but we’re not worried.”
Cannavaro, meanwhile, is looking forward to help James get his revenge against his younger brother.
“He (Wise) is one of the best players in England, he’s a legend. It’s good, of course. Now, we are friends, but in the game, it’s totally different,” said Cannavaro. “I feel sorry for you guys, but we want to win.”
Phil and James, who have always had a friendly rivalry with each other, both believe that they picked the correct players in the Clear Dream Match draft held last August 10.
The brothers chose from a pool of footballers that included top players from the United Football League, the college leagues, as well as celebrities.
“I tried to make the bench stronger, and that’s why my first pick was a center-back,” said James, referring to Yves Ashime. “We’re trying to build a backline and make my defense stronger. I didn’t want to lose like last year.
Meanwhile, Phil opted for versatility.
“My strategy was being able to anticipate that if the draw didn’t go well, I could adjust,” he explained.
But both brothers are clearly looking forward to playing alongside Cannavaro and Wise, whom they idolized while growing up in England.
“If you ask people to name a top class defender in football, he is the first one that comes to mind,” James said of Cannavaro, who in 2006 was named the World Footballer of the Year.
“Dennis is someone that I idolized since I was very young, since he was at Chelsea,” said Phil. “Dennis is a true professional, and he brings a lot on the field with his tactics and his communication. Off the field, he is able to make other players better.”
The Clear Dream Match tips off at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Makati Stadium on Saturday.