Bienvenido Maranon, whose bid to become a Filipino citizen appears to be all but a mere formality, credited a Philippine Azkals legend for allowing him to have a successful football career in the country.
Maranon said in an interview with One Sports’ The Game that he watched several videos of Chieffy Caligdong during his early days with Ceres-Negros in order to get accustomed to the style of play in the country’s local football scene.
“My first month wasn’t easy. I didn’t really play good, I wasn’t happy with my performance and I was thinking of a Filipino player who is similar to me and is one of the best in the Philippines,” Maranon said.
“So I look at Chieffy Caligdong and it’s him. And after that, I tried to do the same like him and I tried to play similar like him and that made me better. Before, I don’t know what to do exactly, but after I saw a video of him, I play similar to him,” the Spanish-born striker added.
Though playing most of the time as the main goalscorer of Ceres which later became United City, Maranon said he tried to emulate Caligdong who was more prominent for his play at midfield during his career not only with the Azkals but also Air Force in the domestic leagues.
“We play the same position because he was playing behind the striker, winger, striker sometimes so I feel how he play. He played very good behind the lines, he had too much quality, he didn’t dribble too much so he passed the ball and then he moved to receive alone so I have to thank him even though he doesn’t know about this one,” he said.
The 34-year-old was key in Ceres winning the first three championships of the Philippines Football League while in the process becoming the all-time leading scorer of the AFC Cup.
He recently helped United City claim the PFL crown under a bubble setup in Carmona, Cavite, earning Maranon and company a historic berth in the group stage of the AFC Champions League.
Maranon’s naturalization was given the nod by the House of Representatives and the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, but still needs the approval of the Senate plenary at the second and third reading and President Duterte’s signature before he can become a Filipino citizen.
He hopes to become a member of the Philippine Azkals once the naturalization process has been completed.