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A Goulden holiday

THERE’S a common comparison in professions: “football players are like rock stars.” That’s most certainly true. David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba, to name a few, can attest to that. But in the case of Chad Edward Gould, it is the opposite...“rock stars are like football players.”

Chad had visions of his band being the next Blur, Ash, Coldplay, Oasis, and you can insert any Brit Rock band’s name here, in the early years of the new millennium. His band, RedGrave, just signed a contract with an indie label and recorded an album. “This was the life,” he recalled of those halcyon days when he left life as a banker at Deutsche Bank to live his rock-star fantasies.

Some time after that in 2004, Chad was on a three-week holiday with his family in Manila when, on a whim, they decided to check out if there was a Philippine national football team. One lead pointed the Goulds to the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) where they met then-national coach Aris Caslib who asked the Fil-Briton to try out for the team.

“I must have looked funny to the PFF officials,” recounted Gould with a laugh. “I went there carrying a guitar so they probably were not sure if I was inquiring about a slot in the national team or a gig.”

Chad was first turned on to music by his parents with the Beatles. “That’s how I eventually became a Liverpool Football Club fan,” he explained of his intertwining music and football roots. “For five nights a week, music was my proper job.”

Since his gigging was at night, Chad traded his guitar for his boots to play football by day. “It was the best of both worlds for me,” said Gould of those days.

There was a huge pool of talent for Caslib to choose from. Suddenly Chad found himself still in the running for a slot as the pool was whittled down from 120 to 64 to 32 and ultimately to 23. “I couldn’t believe my luck,” said Gould of those tryouts. “The three-week holiday turned into three months.”

Chad found himself in the Philippine team that competed in the 2004 Tiger Cup. In the Philippine team’s very first match, the nationals were in the midst of a 4-nil beating by Malaysia when Caslib sent in Gould in the 90th minute of play. There were four minutes of added time and Gould remembers his heart pounding as he raced on to the pitch. “There were a lot people inside the stadium in Kuala Lumpur and if that doesn’t inspire or intimidate you, I don’t know what will.”

In the 93rd minute, the Philippines got one last corner kick. Aly Borromeo headed in a shot that the Malaysian goalkeeper blocked and the ball careened out to a gaggle of players. Gould got to the ball ahead of everyone else and he headed in the ball for a goal. The Philippines, in this pre-Azkals mania that pervades today, salvaged a measure of pride as they pulled back one goal. With family and friends watching back home in the Philippines and England, Gould celebrated as he and his team won the Tiger Cup.

It was a memorable debut and Chad would continue to play for the Philippines until the Long Teng Cup of 2010. “At that time, I was waiting for a call up for the Suzuki Cup,” recalled Gould of that time. “The team was getting better in terms of quality. After the Long Teng Cup, I played with an English beach soccer team that was doing a tour. I was waiting for the call up that never came. And we all know what happened afterward.”

The Philippines drew with Singapore, 1-1, then followed that with an incredible 2-nil win over defending champion and regional powerhouse Vietnam. The run to the Suzuki Cup semifinals was stupefying and it sparked a football renaissance in the Philippines that has not abated one iota since. And the longtime national veteran who had scored six international goals suddenly found himself outside looking in.

“Of course, I was proud of what my teammates had accomplished. But it did hurt a bit that I was not a part of it. On the other hand, my time off also was good for me as I met my current girlfriend, Charlotte [Harris, the niece of the late English actor, Richard Harris].”

Some time early this year, while in correspondence with James and Phil Younghusband who he had been friends with even in England, Gould was prompted to play in the fledging United Football League in Manila. “The time after the Suzuki Cup in 2010 was massive for Philippine football. The sport grew by so much. The UFL also greatly improved. I wanted to be a part of it.”

Gould recently made the fulltime move to Manila with his girlfriend. He has for now shelved temporarily his rock-star dreams to play for the Loyola Meralco Sparks and hope for another call up to the national team. With the Sparks, he has recast himself as a central defender instead of his usual forward position.

“Now I have fully committed to football and in the last eight weeks since I joined Loyola, I have seen myself grow as a footballer. That’s the focus now and I hope that I can contribute to the success of Loyola and the UFL.”

That’s okay, Chad. The way it is for Filipino footballers nowadays, they live like rock stars anyway.

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