To be the best, one must continue to grow. This common quote applies to different fields of life, especially in competitive sports. In the Philippines’ professional football scene, one player who certainly embodies this is Phil Younghusband.
At a young age, Philip James Younghusband showed great offensive potential throughout his years in Chelsea’s youth academy, and later in the reserves. In 2005, a fortunate discovery of his Filipino roots led to him being recruited by the Philippine Football Federation. Ten years and 42 international goals later, not only is he the most prolific goalscorer in the nation’s history, he’s also a major influencer in Philippine football.
From the very beginning, Phil excelled in the striker position. His ability to calmy control and dribble the ball past defenders, along with his deadly finishing, provided a bedrock to the Philippine team’s capacity to surpass expecatations over the years.
These contributions have also applied on the club stage, where the Loyola Meralco Sparks have won the UFL Cup and the National Club Championship – thanks in large part to Phil’s massive goal totals. On a personal level, his offensive prowess has seen him earn numerous achievements, marked by several Top Goal Scorer awards, and an MVP in the triumphant UFL Cup run in 2013.
Today, though, Phil has moved beyond the role of a striker. He has further developed his passing skills and has acquired key defensive attributes in order to add diversity to his game, as seen in recent matches for both club and country.
Instead of a single-minded focus on scoring goals, Younghusband, at times, has been asked to affect games from a deeper position, where his range of passing and defense have come to the fore. And while his scoring totals might have suffered in the process, he has excelled in dictating tempo, creating opportunities, and breaking up opposition attacks.
Given his stature as the nation’s greatest goalscorer, it seemed an odd idea to place him in a different position. And perhaps if someone else was in his shoes, it could’ve been possible that the notion be publicly criticized. But of course, that never happened. Phil welcomed the adjustment with minimal fuss, displaying his nature to put the team’s aspirations as the top priority – regardless of his position.
Younghusband’s ability to adapt allows him to contribute to the game in more than one manner. His emergence as an all-around player is not limited only in skill, but also in composure and leadership. Adding these improvements to his scoring talents, Phil has shown he can influence a match decisively in a variety of ways. And both the Loyola Meralco Sparks and the Philippine National Team stand to benefit from his evolution.