BANGKOK—There’s been little time for Rob Gier to relax the past few weeks.
On the pitch, he’s busy shadowing the finest strikers in Southeast Asia and anchors, and organizes what has been a resolute Philippines backline in the AFF Suzuki Cup here.
In days between games, he spends most of his time in his room, watching videos of the next opponent’s matches on his laptop and creates a dossier of information about the opposing team which he distributes to members of the squad on matchday.
Gier has been performing the dual role since last year when the Azkals reached the second round of World Cup Qualifying.
He relishes the roles and is driven by that fleeting moment of glory.
Winning against the Vietnamese Tuesday felt even more special for Gier as he wore the captain’s armband for the first time.
It made all the hard work, the time away from his wife, Emma, and their year-old daughter Lily, who are both in England, worth it.
“That was one of the highlights of my career, especially with my parents in the crowd,” said the 31-year-old Gier, who once played in the second tier of English football.
Gier’s leadership at the backline has proven crucial for the Azkals.
“Losing the first game kind of focuses your mind,” said Gier, who has 38 appearances with the national side. “You know that if you don’t perform, you could go home. None of us wanted to go home. It was as simple as that.”
Gier said he’s fortunate to be on a side that pulls for each other.
“Many things drive us,” Gier said. “In the huddle before the game, I told the guys, this competition brought me the best experiences of my career. I want to enjoy more of that and I want to enjoy that with these guys. We’re all friends … we all put our bodies on the line for each other. We bleed and sweat for each other.”