At 25 years old, Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Alphonse Areola is already a folk hero of sorts, especially to fans of the France U-20 team, but a missed opportunity for Philippine football.
The French keeper, whose parents are both of Filipino descent, was the hero in Les Bleus' magical run to the title at the U-20 World Cup back in 2013.
Areola made pressure-packed stops in the penalty shootout against Uruguay to help France hoist its first-ever U-20 championship.
As far back as 2011, Dan Palami had already asked the 6-foot-5 keeper to consider suiting up for the Azkals.
Seven years later, Areola is now a decorated member of the French national youth squad, and is poised to make his mark in the biggest stage of international football.
Areola will be backstopping French shotstoppers like Tottenham's Hugo Lloris and Steve Mandanda of Olympique Marseille as Les Bleus looks to capture its first World Cup title in 20 years.
You can catch Alphonse and the rest of Les Bleus on ABS-CBN S+A, and LIGA at the 2018 FIFA World Cup live from Russia starting June 14. Here's the complete schedule.
This story was originally published on the ABS-CBN Sports website.