THE UEFA Champions League final between German clubs Bayern Munich and Borrusia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium in London Saturday night drew millions of television viewers worldwide, making it one of the most watched sports events in the world.
And as Bayern celebrated its 2-1 victory in an enthralling final for the title in the most prestigious club football competition in the world, there was a fleeting moment of pride for the Philippines when cameras caught one of Bayern’s vital cogs, David Alaba, carrying the Filipino flag.
Born to a Filipino mother and a Nigerian father, Alaba, however, is not eligible to see action for the Azkals.
Austria, the country where he grew up, saw his immense potential as a 17-year-old and gave him his first senior cap four years ago, shutting the door on any chance for him to play for the Philippines or Nigeria.
His triumph with Bayern in the Champions League is listed as one of the biggest accomplishments by a footballer with Filipino roots.
The possibility of missing out on a player with Filipino roots close to Alaba’s quality was one of the reasons why Azkals coach Michael Weiss had been extensively scouting in Europe.
A leftback for Bayern, which also lifted the German Bundesliga title in dominant fashion this season, Alaba is equally adept at playing key attacking roles. He forced a superb reflex save from Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller in the 75th minute when the match was still at 1-1.
The Bundesliga is the same league where Azkals standout Stephan Schrock plays in. In fact, Schrock and Alaba played against each other last March when Bayern faced Hoffenheim, swapping jerseys after the match as a friendly gesture.
Alaba was instrumental in Bayern’s success, scoring the first goal against Italian giants Juventus in the quarterfinals a minute into the match, making it one of the tournament’s quickest goals.