This is an article I wrote for Pinoyfootball.com
NEW ZEALAND — When a professional footballer signs for a club in Asia or in the US, especially if he once plied his trade in Europe, his move is often seen as a fall from grace.
Usually it is a last resort since no other club is interested in signing him or a financial move aimed at securing the player financial future as he reaches the twilight of his playing days.
The likes of Thierry Henry, David Beckham, Angel and Robbie Keane have all moved on to the United States after being offered big pay checks in the booming Major League Soccer (MLS). World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro also secured a lucrative deal to play for Al-Ahli in the UAE League. Even Barcelona coach and former Spain midfielder Josep Guardiola gave a cameo at Mexican club Dorados after his European playing days were over.
After being released from his contract with CD Ronda in the Spanish third division, Guirado was linked with a number of clubs in high-profile countries such as Japan, United Arab Emirates and China among others. Such was the reason why Guirado’s move to Global came as a surprise to football fanatics.
“Yes I heard that a number of clubs were looking at me but the timing was off.” Guirado explains.
“They had full line-ups already which meant I had to take a bench role.”
But surely a back-up role to a UAE club or a J-League club would suit everyday footballers better than a starting role in a Philippine semi-pro outfit? Guirado explains his decision.
“I want to wait for the right club to offer me a place in their team where I could play regular football and to compete in a high level of play. I will play for Global while waiting for the right offer to arrive.”
Guirado isn’t the only one in his family who is a professional football player. He has an elder brother Juan Luis, a defender, has played for third division clubs in Spain.
Asked if we were to see a Spanish version of the Greatwich tandem of Chris and Simon, Angel relates that he is clueless about his brother’s plans but is aware efforts have been made to contact him.
“Honestly I do not know his plans though my cousin Rafa is communicating with him.”
He also shares how his brother is happy for him and for the team.
“I am sure he is happy for me and is happily watching the team achieve success. I hope he comes to play here.”
The influx of foreign-bred football talents into the team is one that has merited both positive and negative reactions from Filipinos. When asked what his opinion was on foreign-based athletes, Guirado has this to say to us.
“Today, I believe that we foreign-athletes bring a different level of play to the team. With the proper measures and a comprehensive grassroots program in place and giving homegrown players the right amount of exposure I am sure things will change for the better.”
*United Football League*
Angel also notes that it is good to have a local league such as the UFL in the country.
“It is good that there is a league here such as the UFL and tournaments like the PFF-Smart Club Championships. It will certainly help having people appreciate the game even more. I know that support for the game is increasing as what I have seen in Guimbal, Iloilo when we played there and the fans were very excited to see us. As I have mentioned in other interviews, it will always start with a good grassroots program.”
Leagues like that in Thailand and in the U.S. maybe lucky enough to attract professionals into their game, who are looking to secure themselves financially in the long term. But the Philippines is fortunate that we have foreign-bred Filipino footballers who are willing to return to their motherland and to help develop the sport in the country. *LE (Louie Encabo is also the Admin for Pinoyfootball.com’s Usapang football forum)*