Chieffy Caligdong retires from Azkals

MANILA, Philippines – Azkals star Emilio “Chieffy” Caligdong officially retires from international football duties.  

The 32-year-old Caligdong posted on his Facebook account his official statement on the matter stating that even though he already announced his retirement from the Azkals, his “heart, prayers and support are always with the team.”

Post by Chieffy Asada Caligdong.

Caligdong, a native of Iloilo and one of the long-time members of the Azkals, has been with that team since 2004.

He has scored goals for the country on countless occasions including a crucial goal in the 1-0 win of the Azkals against Vietnam in the 2012 edition of the Suzuki Cup. He also brought home the Golden Boot award in the 2011 Long Teng Cup.

Caligdong told Rappler that his fitness and the growing number of great young talents in the national pool played a big role in his decision to hand his boots.

“Reason kung bakit nag retire ako, kasi una, my fitness is not that good anymore. Alam naman natin na maraming capable doon sa pwesto ko and I want to give chance to others na makapaglaro sila at maipakita kung ano ang laro nila especially doon sa mga youngsters.”

(The reason why I, is first, retired is because my fitness is not that good anymore. We all know that there are many players who are really capable of filling in my spot and I want to give chance for others to play and show what they can do especially the youngsters)

It's my decision siguro na to hindi na mag-pretend na kaya ko pa kahit hindi na. parang pangit naman ata ‘yun. Kaya I just give my position to any player na suitable sa position na yun.

(It's my decision to stop pretending that I can still play at a high level even if I really can’t anymore because that is not good for the team. That’s the reason why I chose to give up my position to any player suitable for that position)

Lastly, Caligdong revealed that he will be focusing more on his club and added that he is eager to take on coaching as a new challenge in his football career.

Kakakuha ko lang ng C license course ko. I want to continue to inspire the kids, especially sa grassroots level. Kasi yung next plan ko is coaching so new challenge para sakin ‘yun at new mission para sakin to share my knowledge and ideas sa mga bagong generation. Also, focus ko lang ngayon is sa club ko and sa coaching ko sa Zobel and sa Green Archers Youth.

(I just finished my C license-coaching course just recently. I want to continue to inspire the kids, especially those in the grassroots level. My next plan is to coach. It’s a new challenge and a mission for me to share my knowledge to the new generation of players. Also, I will focus on my club and on coaching my students at Zobel and Green Archers Youth)

Rumors about Caligdong's retirement from international football duties flooded social media on Wednesday evening, November 12.

This was fueled by a tweet of Melmac Sports Management - an organization that manages Filipino athletes of different sports including Caligdong - on November 2,  that the former Azkals co-captain will make a big announcement this month.

We owe the success of @chieffy_13 to all his supporters. He is about to make a big decision. We will announce this November 2014. #TheChief — melmac sports mgt. (@melmac_sports) November 2, 2014

Many speculated what the announcement would be. A post from Patrick Ace Bright, a member of the Azkals team management shed light on the issue.

“Big salute to @chieffy_13 on his retirement from international football. Thank you for inspiring so many people and for teaching us how one can be very successful but can still show so much humility. Thank you for making the country proud so many times. Truly one of the best filipino footballers of all time,” the post said.

Fans, teammates, and the Philippine football community were saddened by the announcement but wished Caligdong well and reminisced his contributions to the Azkals. 

[ View the story "Twitter shows love for Chieffy Caligdong" on Storify ]