<
>

James Younghusband sees a bright future for the Philippine Azkals

play
Coach Younghusband? Former Philippines star could see it happen (2:17)

After a long career with the Azkals, James Younghusband says coaching the national team is a possibility. (2:17)

For more than a decade, the Younghusband brothers -- James and Phil -- represented Philippine football.

From the time they broke onto the scene in the mid-2000s, any success the Philippines had almost certainly coincided with either of the Younghusbands producing a star turn.

- A path less traveled led to an adventure of a lifetime for James Younghusband

The past few years saw a host of new players emerging. Stephan Schrock, Patrick Reichelt and Manny Ott came on to take their turns.

Those players are in part why the recently retired James Younghusband decided it was time to hang up his boots.

"I felt that there's the right people in charge to lead the way into a new era," James Younghusband told ESPN. "Every moment I had with the national team was really great. I remember as a young boy first coming through, we were made to learn the national anthem.

"[Former goalkeeper] Ed Sacapano would literally grab me and help me rehearse but that brought us closer as a team and it showed just how great the team-mates and Filipinos are. Every time after that, I'd sing it proudly and I even get tempted to sing along now when it plays in the cinema. But it's time to give a chance to the younger guys as well."

The Younghusbands will always be part of Philippine football folklore for their roles in many of the team's firsts. They played a part in the Miracle of Hanoi in 2010, where the Azkals reached the knockout round of the AFF Suzuki Cup for the first time. They helped secure the Azkals' first AFC Asian Cup appearance eight years later.

James Younghusband believes the 2010 win over Vietnam will always be special to him.

"I'd probably have to go with the Miracle of Hanoi," he replied, when asked if he could choose between the two. "Some of us had never played in front of 80,000 before, it was electrifying, and just because we were such underdogs back then.

"We were just a group of guys who wanted to represent the country and just go from there, because there wasn't an established league in Philippines then so it wasn't like we had career options waiting for us."

With his playing days officially over, James Younghusband has said he's interested in pursuing coaching at a grassroots level. But could he one day return to the Azkals as James Younghusband, the head coach?

"One thing I was always taught is that you always want to set your standards high," said James. "And I'm not saying grassroots level is low. I love coaching grassroots, when the kids are starting young and have a lot to learn, and they show a great attitude and ask you loads of questions.

"You just always want to look at all possibilities, set the bar high and aim for it, and I would also like to one day maybe coach the Azkals."