Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Chelsea's Younghusbands reunite for Philippines

Filipino-British footballer James Younghusband had always cherished playing alongside younger brother, Phil. Growing up in London, the Younghusband brothers learned the sport together, even before they joined the Chelsea Football Club 11 years ago. So when Chelsea severed ties with James in May, the 20-year-old could not hide his disappointment. "There were lots of foreign players coming in to the club. I was very upset because I had been with the club since I was nine," James told Visayan Daily Star during training with the Philippine national football team in preparation for the ASEAN Football Federation Cup qualifiers. But James was quick to add he had no ill feelings with Chelsea. "I have a lot of friends, especially in the management. The competition for spots in the squad is really tough," James said.

In contrast, Chelsea kept Phil, who has scored twice so far this season, despite his relegation to the substitutes' bench. "Phil is proving himself to the club this year," James said. With the rich talent pool in England, James has found difficulty looking for a new club and remains a free agent. He had trained with Brighton in League 1, two rungs lower than the English Premiership, but twisted his ankle on his first day with the club that sidelined him for a month. He also trained with League 2 club Shewsbury and AFC Wimbledon to get into shape before his trip to the Philippines.

"It's been very hard (looking for a club)," James, who scored his first goal for the Philippines U-23 team last year in a 4-2 victory against Cambodia in the South East Asian Games, said. At present, however, it's not his football career in England that's on top of James' mind. "I'm excited to play my first full international match for the Philippines," he said. But more than anything else, James said he is looking forward to a reunion with Phil on the pitch in the AFF Cup. "I can't wait to play with my brother again and help the Philippines win in any way we can. We haven't played together since May," he said.

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