MANILA, Philippines – After two years of not suiting up for the Philippine Azkals, Stephan Schrock would do anything to regain a spot in the national team.
Although the final 23-man lineup for the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup has yet to be announced, the Ceres-Negros midfielder feels he has a strong chance of wearing the Azkals jersey again.
"This is actually the proudest moment of every football player in his career – representing the country. It’s just good to be back. I’m very happy," said Schrock who was ecstatic that he got called up for the Bahrain training camp last September.
The 32-year-old spent the whole month of October recovering from the injury and got sidelined during the Azkals' recent stints in Bangladesh and Qatar.
But Schrock says he's ready for a call-up despite the discomforts.
"I’m still in progress, it’s still painful but it’s nothing that we can’t solve in order to play the Suzuki Cup. Very excited and well prepared so far," said Schrock.
"I will be part of it (training camp), but if I’m not sure yet if I'll be 100% ready. Nothing great comes overnight so I’m still patient and I hope everything will be ready for our first game against Singapore."
The Filipino-German was a sensation when he first capped for the Philippines in 2011, bringing in all his experience from Germany's 2. Bundelisga and the top tier league itself.
But Schrock had a rift with ex-mentor Thomas Dooley, which prompted him to resign from the squad. The veteran Azkal only returned to national team service in the 2016 Suzuki Cup where the squad bowed out of the tournament early after failing to make it past the group stage.
When new coach Scott Cooper took over, however, Schrock felt renewed and noted the Irish's positive impact on the team.
"It was an impressive first camp by Scott Cooper and everybody followed. All the players were eager to prove themselves. It was a good friendly competition between us and of course, everybody wants to be part of the team in the Suzuki Cup and the upcoming Asian Cup," said Schrock.
Since his last Azkals stint, it was obvious that Schrock still wanted to play for the Azkals as he occasionally posted photos of himself in his #17 Azkals jersey on his social media accounts.
View this post on Instagram It was an honor to wear this Jersey - thank u Azkals! ♥️ A post shared by Stephan M. Cabizares Schröck (@schroecky) on Aug 26, 2017 at 1:09pm PDT
View this post on Instagram The good villain. A post shared by Stephan M. Cabizares Schröck (@schroecky) on Feb 21, 2018 at 7:36pm PST
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.