‘Best feeling ever’: Bienve Marañon relishes first game with PH Azkals
MANILA, Philippines—It may have ended in defeat but Bienve Marañon’s first time playing for the Philippines was still a special moment for him.
Marañon, who was born in El Puerto de Santa Maria in Spain, became a Filipino citizen in February 2021 and was finally able to play for the country in the 2022 AFF Suzuki Cup.
The forward’s first campaign, however, ended in a 2-1 defeat to Singapore in the group stages.
❤️🇵🇭 Emotional and special moment.
When I was kid I just thought about to enjoy and have fun playing football, then this beautiful sport became my job and I still enjoy as the first day.
Yesterday I lived the biggest reward and I made my debut with @theazkalsph the country … pic.twitter.com/iT9EKCvDYb
— Bienve Marañon (@Bienvecadiz86) December 9, 2021
“Emotional and special moment,” wrote Marañon on Twitter. “When I was kid I just thought about to enjoy and have fun playing football, then this beautiful sport became my job and I still enjoy as the first day.”
“Yesterday I lived the biggest reward and I made my debut with @theazkalsph, the country I feel at home, and where I found the happiness and the stability. Best feeling ever.”
Marañon, who is of Basque ethnicity, played for eight Spanish clubs during his career but ultimately settled with United City in 2015 where he’s had international success as he became the AFC Cup’s all-time top scorer with 35 goals.
Despite not having Filipino blood, Marañon shares a long link to the Philippines as his Basque grandfather fled to Western Visayas during the rule of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.
Marañon’s naturalization process began in March 2020 after Senator Migz Zubiri filed Senate Bill 1391 before President Rodrigo Duterte enacted it into law in July 2021 under Republic Act No. 11570.
“I will keep working hard and keep defending the flag to make all Filipinos proud to have me with them,” wrote Marañon.