MANILA, Philippines – It’s shaping to be the best year yet for Philippine football.
Just months after the national men’s football team booked its first ever AFC Asian Cup berth, its goalkeeper made history of his own.
Neil Etheridge will be the first Southeast Asian to play in the Premier League after his club Cardiff City gained promotion in the world’s most popular football league.
Cardiff finished second after a scoreless draw against Reading in the final match of the second-tier English Football League Championship.
Only the top two teams at the end of the regular season are guaranteed spots in the Premier League.
Congratulations to @Neil38Etheridge! @TheAzkalsPH goalkeeper guided Cardiff City to a second place finish in the Championship to earn promotion to the @premierleague!— The Philippine Football Federation (@philfootball) May 6, 2018
Etheridge never cracked the lineup when he was signed by then Premier League team Fulham in 2008. By 2015, he landed a contract with Charlton Athletic, but later got released.
The Filipino-British later moved to Walsall where he impressed in 94 appearances before getting snapped up by Cardiff in 2017.
Etheridge, who got tapped to cover for the injured Lee Camp, has revived his career with Cardiff where he has played in all but one of the Bluebirds’ games this season.
Just last March, Etheridge and the Azkals pulled off the biggest achievement yet in Philippine football when the squad downed Tajikistan, 2-1, in the qualifiers to book the country’s first ever slot in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. –Rappler.com