James Younghusband marked the end of a chapter of Philippine football when he announced his retirement in June. The so-called poster boys of Philippine football have hung up their boots and called it a career marking the end of a Renaissance of the sport in the country.
But even if we won't see either Phil or James on the pitch again doesn't mean they're done affecting the beautiful game in the country.
The Younghusband brothers first made a splash in Philippine football after a video game unearthed their eligibility to play for the national team in the early 2000s. Soon after, both brothers made their way from the posh facilities of the Chelsea FC youth academy to the outskirts of Bacolod in the Philippines for the 2005 Southeast Asian Games.
"Two weeks before the tournament, we stayed in a house up in the mountains and it took an hour to get to training and an hour back so we were doing that twice a day," Phil reminisced on the Crossover Podcast. "Coach Aries (Caslib), his staff and all the players were, they really made us feel at home, even though to be honest we were really homesick."
Phil shared the team even lifted the one television set they had in the house they stayed in into their room just to make them feel more comfortable.
"We didn't ask for it but that's what they do to make us feel at home," Phil said.
Since their humble beginnings with Philippine football, the Younghusband brothers played a key role in the sudden revival of football in the country.
In the 15 years since their first training camp in Bacolod, the Younghusbands have accumulated a combined 209 caps and 64 goals between them. The pair have also been largely present in the Azkals' rise in the FIFA world rankings from 191st in 2005 to 124th today.
From the whipping boys of Southeast Asia, the Philippines evolved to be a perennial semifinalist in the AFF Suzuki Cup - with four appearances in the last five editions of the tournament - and qualified for the AFC Asian Cup - the highest level of national team football in the continent.
The last we saw of either Phil or James donning the national team colors was at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. We won't see Phil wheeling away in celebration after a goal or James whipping in Beckham-inspired crosses into the box again, but the pair believe that their days impacting Philippine football aren't over yet. Though admittedly, it may take some time before they leave a mark once again.
"I want to travel to different countries and learn different ways of styles of football, coaching football," James bared. "So I want to get back to the UK, get to coaching there, speak to our contacts at Chelsea if I can gain some experience there, gain some knowledge there and also look to go to the US."
"My goal was always to help develop Philippine football and to go abroad, learn and come and share that to the Philippines," James added.
The brothers also admitted that most of their football knowledge came from their education at Chelsea, and that in some ways they've lived off that until the end of their playing days. For them to excel in any future role furthering Philippine football, the pair need to hone their craft abroad to bring back the best practices to the country.
"If we want to grow in the sport and we want to help develop football even more in the Philippines, we need to go abroad and gain more knowledge, more experience and be able to bring it back again to the Philippines," Phil said.
The next step for the Younghusband brothers may not be in the country, but the pair don't have any doubt their story growing the football in the Philippines is far from over.
"I think we still have a lot to offer Philippine football whether that's next year or the year after. We don't know but we still have something to offer," Phil said.