Jerry Vaflor, ex-Mr Football of PH, dies at 76
MANILA, Philippines – Jerry Vaflor, one of the best central defenders in Philippine football in the 1960s, died Sunday afternoon, June 12, at the St Paul Hospital in Iloilo City, a family friend said.
Cynthia Gencianeo told Rappler.com that Vaflor, 76, died of pneumonia after being rushed to the hospital.
Feared for his gutsy tackling and heading skills, it seemed that the hard-nosed Vaflor would be impervious. Barely 5'5", he looked at a forward probingly, fiercely before deciding how to stop him. But after the final whistle, Vaflor would be a jovial man, speaking in a manner so far from his tough guy image.
"He was a strong tackler and good in the air," said Johnny Romualdez, treasurer of the Philippine Football Federation who played with Vaflor in the national team.
Vaflor had one of the longest careers in Philippine football. In 1979, he led Zig-Zag Jaro, made up of mostly college students, into the finals of the National Cup against San Miguel in the National League finals.
Ramsay Padernilla, the center forward of that squad, said Vaflor was "a tough and solid defender and very strong playing as a sweeper." He added that Vaflor was "very good in heading the balls, his favorite being the 'dive heading' when defending against attacking opponents."
Vaflor played in Manila from 1959 to 1962 before the football federation hired British coaches Alan Rogers and Brian Birch to train the national team after it was crushed in the preliminaries of the 1962 Asian Games.
These two men, said Vaflor in a phone conversation two months ago, changed his style.
"Rogers stressed that you have to make the attacker doubt. Birch just retired from English Premier League and he was fast, shifty. He told me not to commit too early."
He also worked to be a strong leaper to head the ball out of attackers or to nudge the ball during corner kicks.
Rogers and Birch, who tried to move the Philippines away from the old M-W scheme to the 4-2-4 favored by Brazil, the toasts of world football, were tested severely in an exhibition against Selangor, then Malaysian Cup champions and led by Abdul Ghani, who scored 11 goals in Malaysia's 15-1 rout of the Phiippines in the 1962 Asian Games.
"I shadowed him. He was a winger so when I guarded him, one of the fullbacks took my spot. And I felt at ease as we had a very good goalie, Eddie Pe," said Vaflor.
Ghani could not shoot but the Philippine team, which led 1-0, still could not hang on to its lead. Ghani eventually tied but could not draw ahead due to Pe's goalkeeping and the backline's defense led by Vaflor.
Vaflor's feat made him the Philippine Sportswriters Association Mr Football awardee for 1963.
Vaflor continued playing until 1972. He was the heart of the Meralco defense which helped the Reddy Kilowatts retire the Lobregat Cup in 1968.
He coached for a while at La Salle Green Hills, where he known as a good motivator, cheering on those who made their first goals as if they were the top goal scorers. – Rappler.com
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