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Phil Younghusband retires from football

MANILA — One of the catalysts for the renaissance of Philippine football has called it quits.

Phil Younghusband, arguably the most decorated local footballer in recent history, announced his retirement from playing at age 32 on Monday night.

"[I'm] hanging up my boots!" Younghusband said via his social media account.

Younghusband still played earlier this year for the national team during the AFC Asian Cup, the first time the team, known by the moniker Azkals , made the continental tournament.

Phil and older brother James were once members of Chelsea's reserve team when a gamer's discovery led to their being referred to the Philippine Football Federation.

Five years after their Azkals debut, the Younghusband brothers became key members of the national team that stunned Vietnam in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, eventually bringing the squad to its breakthrough semifinal appearance.

The so-called "Miracle in Hanoi" paved the way for football to become more relevant among the basketball-crazy Filipinos, and the Azkals eventually became the top football team in Southeast Asia at some point.

Phil will retire with 52 international goals for the Azkals, the most by a Philippine national player.

“We thank Phil Younghusband for his storied career with the Philippine Men’s National Team,” said PFF president Nonong Araneta in a separate statement.

He added that Younghusband's "tremendous" contribution to Philippine football will never be forgotten.

"May his legacy continue to inspire the next crop of football players,” he said.

Since leaving Chelsea's academy to venture into the Philippine football scene, he and James both played for Mendiola, then known as San Beda FC, Meralco Manila, and Davao Aguilas.

After Davao disbanded after the 2018 Philippines Football League season, Phil remained a free agent although rumors surfaced about him taking his talents to Indonesia.

During free agency, he married model Margaret Hall, and four months after they tied the knot, he decided to retire from the game.

Phil's retirement leaves James Younghusband, who is currently playing for Ceres Negros, and David Basa, who is signed with Global Makati, as the only players from the Azkals' 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup team still actively playing. (PNA) 

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