MANILA, Philippines – Minutes after playing his final match for the Philippine Azkals, Stephan Schröck immediately expressed his desire to continue being around the national football team in some capacity.
“Unlike others that retired, I’d love to stay.”
The 36-year-old Schröck hinted he might take a coaching position soon: “I’d love to stay. I know it’s difficult, I know it’s not the easiest job, [Azkals head] coach [Josep Ferré] would tell you more about that, but I’d love to be involved.”
“I’d love to have whenever it is, I mean, I’m making myself available, obviously.”
He then explained, “There’d been talks already that things being set up that could be me getting in the way to stay in the Philippine football stadium, in national team football, and after this game, next week, we’ll assess some more things, and prepare it for the future.”
The former TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder also shed light on the inquiries regarding his situation at the club level: “I haven’t made up my mind yet.”
“It depends on the outcomes of the talks I would have in the next couple of days,” shared Schröck, who last played for the United City FC and the Azkals Development Team.
“Like I said, I’d love to be involved in football, unlike others who retired, and I wanna give back. I wanna give back, and let’s see how that one pans out.”
His last dance with the Philippine men’s senior team did not receive a fairytale ending as Indonesia played spoiler and defeated Schröck and the Azkals, 2-1, on Monday, January 2, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The loss closed out the Azkals’ horrid 2022 AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup campaign as they finished with only a single win out of four matches in Group A.
After absorbing an opening fixture upset to Cambodia, the Philippines bounced back and notched its breakthrough victory versus Brunei, the eventual fifth placers in the group.
In their penultimate group stage match, the Azkals were sent to the brink of elimination following a blowout from reigning champions Thailand.
The Azkals ended the regional biennial tournament at fourth place in Group A with 3 points and a -2 goal difference.
Schröck, though, was glad he was able to play in front of the home fans for one last time.
“Amazing. I was very proud and happy that my last game would be here against a very, very good opponent,” he said.
“I’m very honored. I’m really, really honored and proud of that, I was part that long of the national team, that I could showcase where I’m coming from, what I’m about.”
“For my mom – it’s obviously a very, very big thing for me – to make my mom happy and proud is one of the biggest achievements, and she told me that last night and this morning before my last game,” Schrock added. “So I’m very happy overall, with everything that went around.”
Schröck, who accumulated 57 caps for the Azkals, said his farewell game was an “emotional day” for his mother too, as she was the one who influenced him to move back to the Philippines.
“She was very proud that I chose the Philippine over staying in Germany, and this is also for her, not longer for me. It was a normal decision, and I’d like to thank her,” he said.
Lastly, the 5-foot-7 midfielder voiced out his gratitude to his fans and to everyone who took part in his Azkals playing career: “Thank you for always supporting me.”
“I know I’m not the easiest person maybe at times, but I can assure you I always gave my all for the country. And I hope you enjoyed me also a bit in these 11 years, and I’d like to thank everyone who has been part of this journey,” he said.
“I’m 36. I’d like to enjoy my time with my family too, and I hope everyone can respect that.” – Rappler.com