Etheridge: I'm proud to represent the Philippines

8 Aug 2018

Cardiff City goalkeeper hopes his success can inspire Southeast Asians as he aims for historic PL debut

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A lot has changed in the last year for Cardiff City goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.

Last summer his contract at League One side Walsall expired.

It brought an end to his first spell of regular football in a career that included being released by Fulham without making a top-flight appearance.

But when Neil Warnock decided to bring Etheridge to Cardiff ahead of the 2017/18 season, he grabbed his chance with both hands.

Etheridge became a mainstay in a team that secured promotion to the Premier League.

Unforgettable year

It was also an unforgettable year for his country, the Philippines. Etheridge, their most famous footballer, helped them qualify for the Asian Cup for the first time.

Etheridge can become the Premier League's first Filipino player, and in turn the first person from over 650 million people in Southeast Asia to play in the competition.

"I'm very proud to be Filipino - or half-Filipino, half-British - and to represent the Philippines," the 28-year-old says.

"It's a developing country in football. We've got other sports, such as boxing and basketball, that we're competing against.

"Football really only came on the map in 2010. It's still a long way off where it could be and should be, in comparison to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. But it will take time to get there."

Bournemouth bow?

Etheridge, could make his PL debut when Cardiff visit AFC Bournemouth on 11 August and he hopes his success can inspire other Filipinos to follow in his footsteps.

"Speaking to the family, they're enjoying it, riding the wave," Etheridge adds.

"As an individual, I can only take it so far but I really want to keep pushing and really start to put the Philippines on the map.

"The Philippines is very largely populated. If we can start really opening their eyes and maybe seeing that there's a way of coming over to Europe and playing, even though it's on the other side of the world."

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