A FEW months after the Philippines won over Mongolia on home soil, the first home game for the national team in almost five years, interest in playing for the national team was at an all-time high. There were so many sons of Pinoys based abroad who wanted to suit up and some of them, to put it mildly, weren’t worth the paper of their application.
But there was this one player the national team couldn’t wait to suit up. Dan Palami was full of praise for him, saying he was the best among the crop. Mind you, the national squad had players who learned their football in the EPL reserves and to hear them say that of Stephen Schrock, made me wonder who he was.
Dan shared a clip and after seeing it, I immediately went online to check his football pedigree. It was more than impressive. A German youth international and a Bundesliga player?
He made his debut for the Azkals in 2011 and when I saw him play first for the first time, I thought, the wait was all worth it. He scored a rocket of a goal from 30 yards against Kuwait.
After that, during slow times at the office, I’d often search the AFP photo database for him and I remember smiling when I saw a photo of him against Franck Ribery. I mean, in basketball terms, that would be akin to, say, seeing a photo of James Yap guarding Kobe Bryant.
I was surprised when I learned that Schrocky was leaving Germany for Ceres as I thought a player of his caliber would be playing in Europe until his retirement. I thought the Ceres stint would be a temporary thing. Surely some other club in Asean, or maybe even China, would be knocking on his doors. Eventually, I was impressed with his loyalty with Ceres and the club owes a lot of its success to him.
And, as one by one the Azkals starting unit transferred to leagues in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, I always wondered when Schrock would make the move. I remember, in one home match, he made one defender look so silly that it reminded me of a U17 player playing against a U7. The gap in talent was that glaring.
Now, I know Schrock fans want him to stay with United, especially as it is set to embark on an AFC campaign. I won’t be surprised if Schrock does stay with United, but I hope Schrocky tries his luck in the other Asean leagues. I’m sure there’s no shortage of takers for his talent.
And, based on his latest posts on social media, it seems he is entertaining the idea. Schrocky in the Asean leagues? His presence is sure to revise the local fans’ concept of a Filipino footballer.