TWO touted Azkals recruits hope their sacrifices would continue to bear fruit as the Philippine men’s football team resumes its Fifa World Cup/AFC Asian Cup joint qualification campaign against Yemen in Doha on Tuesday night.
Iain Ramsay and Stephan Palla displayed their commitment to the national team by postponing their respective honeymoons after both overseas-based standouts got married days before the Filipino booters opened their campaign against Bahrain at the Philippine Stadium in Bulacan.
Ramsay, a Filipino-Australian, tied the knot with longtime girlfriend Jody on May 28, but had to leave right away and arrived in his mother’s country three days later in time for the start of the Azkals’ training on June 1.
“She understands,” Ramsay said of Jody, who he has been with for almost a decade. “In football you have to sacrifice, and there’s been quite a few times in my career where I’ve been weeks and weeks away without seeing her.”
“It’s an honor and privilege to represent the Azkals and the whole country,” added Ramsay, whose mom is from Pampanga.
Palla, on the other hand, got married last June 6, yet the Filipino-Austrian utility player hopped on a plane just a day later then reached the country three nights ahead of the Azkals’ match against the Bahrainis last Thursday.
He immediately made an impression when he was given the opportunity to stay in another hotel with his wife when he arrived in the country on the night of June 8.
“But I said no, I want to meet the team because we don’t have so much time and it’s important for me to meet them,” he said.
Their sacrifices were rewarded when the Azkals stunned Bahrain, 2-1, with Ramsay and Palla thriving in their respective roles at the right side and their wives watching from the stands.
“They decided to have their honeymoon with the Azkals,” Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said. “That shows so much dedication and honor to play for their country and that’s professionalism.
“That is something that you don’t expect, but you know how much heart they put in,” the German-American mentor added. “With the guys we have, we have the right guys.”
Both players can resume their real honeymoons after the match against Yemen.
Ramsay, in fact, has fallen in love with the Philippines that he decided to celebrate their wedding in one of the top summer destinations in the country.
“We’ll definitely spend a few days together most likely in the Philippines, maybe in Boracay,” he said.
Palla, whose mom was raised in Las Piñas, is also pondering to stay in the country for a while after canceling what he hinted was an expensive honeymoon trip to Sardinia, Italy.
“Maybe I can spend one day with the family and go somewhere,” he said.