MANILA, Philippines -- Stephan Schrock is set to retire from international football after the Philippine Azkals' clash against Indonesia in Group A of the 2022 AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup on Monday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
The talismanic midfielder made the announcement on New Year's Day, during the pre-match press conference of what will be the Azkals' final game of the tournament.
"As you know, in football, nothing is for sure," the Filipino-German standout said. "But 99%, this will be my last game for the national team."
Now 36 years old, Schrock made his debut for the Philippines in 2011 after having represented Germany at the youth level.
He has been capped 56 times by the Azkals, with six goals to his name. As the captain and the senior statesman of the national team, Schrock has been the Azkals' unquestioned leader through several tournaments, including the past two Southeast Asian Games where he was tapped as an over-age player.
In the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, he scored the Philippines' lone goal of the tournament against Kyrgyzstan.
But Schrock acknowledged that he has also made plenty of sacrifices for the national team, particularly with regards to his family.
"Not many know what I had to sacrifice, how many million euro contracts I jeopardized to come out for the national team, and how many moments I missed out with my family," he said.
"I missed all of my kids' first birthdays for the national team. I moved my wedding for the national team," said Schrock, who has three children with his wife, Pina. "I left [my] family sick and with COVID at home to come to the national team."
"I sacrificed a lot, and there comes a time where you want to have it in your own hands," he added. "Given that I was not selected for the AFC qualifiers, I think it's time to step down and to enjoy the last 90 minutes of my Azkals career."
Schrock's impending retirement from the Azkals gives the team further motivation against Indonesia on Monday, even though they are already eliminated from contention.
The Azkals have just one win in their first three games in Group A -- a 5-1 rout of Brunei last December 3. Losses to Cambodia and Thailand, combined with Thailand and Indonesia's 1-1 draw on December 29, kicked them out of the running for a spot in the semifinals of the tournament.