Phil and James Younghusband have both called it a career.
In a span of just months, Filipino-British football stars Phil and James Younghusband both announced their retirement from the sport, thus ending the Younghusband era in Philippine football.
Phil and James were crucial parts of the Philippine Azkals’ biggest moments, including the Miracle in Hanoi during the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, as well as their recent milestones with the AFC Asian Cup berth.
In November of 2019, Phil, the Philippine Azkals’ leading goalscorer announced that he was calling it a career, and in June of 2020, his older brother James followed suit.
As it turns out, that wasn’t the original plan for James, who initially wanted hang his spikes up at the end of the year. Speaking to Cedelf Tupas on the Crossover Podcast, James shared that he actually wanted to play out the whole 2020 Philippines Football League season, but the COVID-19 pandemic axed those plans.
“Originally, my plan was to finish off the year with Ceres with the whole 2020 season but of course, with the pandemic and the situation and football put on hold especially now here with it still on break, I just felt it was time to announce, I’ve decided to end it a bit earlier,” James said.
Ceres-Negros was the final stop on James’ long and decorated professional Philippine club football career, which began in 2011.
While 2019 was indeed an eventful year for James on the pitch, he admits he would have wanted a proper end to his career.
“Winning the double last year, getting the chance to play in AFC in the Champions League and with AFC Cup, it was a nice way to end it, but of course, would have been nice to finish the year.”
With the uncertainty of things given the COVID-19 pandemic however, James felt that the time was right to put a bow on what has been a great career.
“Just felt with the momentum of being on break, I had to announce it now, and seeing around, waiting around, wondering when the league would restart but I felt yeah, it was time to announce it and I’m just thankful to everyone for the great messages and the great articles…itreally feels great to see that appreciation.”
James admitted that seeing his younger brother retire first did play a part in influencing his decision as well.
“Yeah, I think as well. During this time, you’re sitting at home, a lot of time to think and evaluate yourself and your life, and as well, my brother he’s starting a family, me as well I felt there’s other things in life I want to experience as well and a new chapter to begin.”
“It played a part as well, we had a great run as well, great memories as well and I just felt the time was right during this pandemic to announce it,” James added.
As for Phil, he explained that his decision to retire last year came after a series of setbacks coupled with him getting ready to start a family.
“I mean there’s a lot of ups and downs and the downs can really bring you down and it came to a point that I had successive blows with the folding of Davao, with not being able to start in games in the Asian Cup, it was very disappointing and my morale was very low and I was getting married at the time, losing my job when I knew I had to fund a wedding,” Phil admitted.
“I just knew my priorities when my wife, we were starting a family and I just felt very unmotivated with football so those successive blows really took its toll on me and I knew I didn’t wanna feel that again and I want security and start a family, your priority is family you gonna want to support them and make sure they never in a vulnerable position so I decided I want to be in a position where I can support them and give them security,” Phil continued.
Unfortunately, unlike in most other Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines is still struggling to keep a local club football league afloat, which can largely be attributed to the clubs themselves struggling to get financial support.
“Playing in Philippine football is not gonna give me that because there’s been numerous times clubs folded and look what’s going on now, it’s really tough,” Phil said. “I was in the same position of a lot of players are going through now in Philippine football where clubs are going to find financial support and it’s very difficult. I empathize with anyone in that position.”
While the Younghusband era in Philippine football may be over in terms of them being players, there remains a large possibility that the two remain involved in a different capacity, whether it be coaching or otherwise.
“I think it’s now time where I wanna start pursuing a possibility in coaching and learning more about coaching,” he shared. “I would actually like to travel as well to different countries and learn about different cultures about football also, and different philosophies,” said James.
“I wanna travel to different countries and learn different ways of styles of football, coaching football. My goal was always to help develop Philippine football and to go abroad, learn, and come and share that to the Philippines,” he continued.
“James and I have always said a lot of our knowledge and experience were gained at Chelsea Football Club. We were able to watch the best players in the world every day, the best facilities, being under the best coaches in the world and most of our knowledge and experience has come from that but we feel if we want to grow in the sport and we want to help develop football even more in the Philippines, we need to go abroad and gain more knowledge, more experience and be able to bring it back again to the Philippines,” Phil added.
“I think we still have a lot to offer Philippine football, whether that’s next year or the year after. We don’t know but we still have something to offer,” he continued.