Azkals captain Gier retires: ‘All good things must come to an end’
Former national team skipper Rob Gier Wednesday announced his retirement from international football, calling time to a stellar career that saw him represent the country 66 times highlighted by the Azkals’ historic runs in the AFF Suzuki Cup and the AFC Challenge Cup.
Acknowledged as one of the leaders of the Azkals, the 35-year-old Gier has struggled with injuries the last two years that saw him slip in and out of the squad since coach Thomas Dooley took over.
But there’s no denying Gier’s impact in the side which has grown to become a tight-knit bunch despite having players with Filipino lineage coming from different parts of the world.
Gier took to heart his role as skipper of the national side, evolving from a no-nonsense, hard-nosed defender to become one of the squad’s emotional leaders at the height of the Azkals fame in 2012 and 2013.
“All good things must come to an end so today I would like to announce that my playing career has now drawn to a close,” Gier said on his Facebook account.
“Football has given me everything: I have travelled the world, won trophies, played for and against some amazing teams, met wonderful people, played in the best stadiums in the world, in front of the most passionate fans in the world, seen a whole country’s footballing landscape change virtually overnight, scored some (not many) goals, made some great tackles, captained a nation, laughed and cried. But most importantly I managed to realise my childhood dream of being a footballer.”
Gier was part of the side that beat then AFF Suzuki Cup defending champion Vietnam in Hanoi in 2010, catapulting the Azkals to fame and the sport back to the nation’s consciousness. Only two members of that famous Azkals side remain in the national pool – skipper Phil Younghusband and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
Tributes from teammates and fans poured on social media as news of Gier’s retirement came out Wednesday.
“It was always good to have you in front of me,” said Azkals goalkeeper Roland Muller. “Thank you for your passion and your 100 percent love for football. I will miss you on the pitch and out of the pitch, especially your speeches before the games.”
“Thank you to a legend,” said Stephan Schrock in his message to Gier. “Playing alongside you was a pleasure and you will be missed. A great sportsman and even bigger person.”