Manchester United’s Smalling sees himself in PH AzkalsBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
To a certain extent, Manchester United defender and England international Chris Smalling can relate to the Philippine Azkals, whose rapid rise from obscurity loosely mirrors his emergence as an established player in the English Premier League.
Smalling was a diamond found in the lower rungs of English football. The 22-year-old Smalling was playing non-league football barely five years ago and already looking forward to study finance in college before a career in football was presented to him.
“It’s been a whirlwind journey,” said Smalling in an exclusive interview with the Inquirer. “It’s so much to take in. But it’s been a great few years. I was in school, then to a non-league team. I was about to go to University but then I found an opportunity to trial at a few clubs and everything happened from there.”
These days, Smalling plays with some of the finest players in the world in one of the world’s biggest clubs. He has also represented England at the senior level four times and was initially considered for the Three Lions side for the European Championships before a groin injury ruled him out.
Smalling is in Manila for a holiday on the prodding of Azkals goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, a close friend since his days with London-based club Fulham.