By NIKOLE JAVIER
Stephan Schrock will be playing his final game with the Philippine Azkals against Indonesia on Monday, Jan 2.
The national team captain is stepping down from international play after 11 years of commitment to the Azkals, he announced on New Year’s Day during the pre-match press conference between the Philippines and Indonesia.
The German-Filipino midfield attacker has made 56 appearances for the flag with six international goals tied to his name including two Southeast Asian Games tournaments that proved his undoubted leadership to the team.
“As you know in football, nothing is for sure. But 99%, this would be my last game for the national team. Coming 11 years for the national team, it is quite emotional for me. Not many know what I had to sacrifice,” said Schrock.
But his time with the Azkals has come up and Schrock is looking to focus on his personal life that he had traded to prove over a decade of commitment.
Born to a Filipina mother, the 36-year-old intends to use the time in his hands with his family and club career back in Europe.
“ how many moments I missed out with my family. I have three children. Tomorrow my youngest daughter will turn one. I missed the birthdays of all the kids, all first birthdays for the national team. I moved weddings for the national team, I couldn’t attend honeymoon for the national team. So, I sacrificed a lot. And it comes to the time when you want to have it in your own hands. Kinda like given that I was not selected in the AFC qualifiers. So, I think it’s a good time to step down. And to enjoy the last 90 minutes of my Azkals career,” he added.
In the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, the Philippines lost all three matches, but Schrock gave the country its lone goal in the tournament against Kyrgyzstan.
Since then, Schrock has expressed intent to retire from national duty.
With no overpromising, the Azkals are playing with added motivation to close out the group stage despite being out of contention.
“I can show you that in the past 11 years, whenever I was called up and whenever I was able to convince the club in Europe to let me go, that I always played my heart out. That I always showed up in the best possible shape, even if it’s off-season, during the season, with lots of games, little games. I always try to come here to deliver my best performance and in some games, it’s goes better, in some games, it doesn’t. What I can tell you is that I’ve been trying to always play my heart out. And always put the effort that is necessary to represent the country. And that’s what I’m gonna do tomorrow in my last game as well,” he concluded.