By Noel Caballero
Bangkok, Jun 25 (EFE).- Thai football has grown from a golden retirement hub for European stars like English Robbie Fowler to an increasingly competitive environment in its own right, as it becomes a target market for the Spanish LaLiga competition.
LaLiga president Javier Tebas mentioned his ambition to see a Thai player step onto the Spanish pitch last week, during an interview in the EFE Sport Business Days forums.
“The development of Thai football in the past few years is evident. They are investing a lot into youth squads, with coaches starting to work with players at a young age, playing the long-term game,” says David Rochela, who entered Thai football in 2013.
The Spanish midfielder, who captains the Port United, has made a name for himself in Thailand, where he has won various titles with his current team and Buriram United in what he calls an increasingly professionalized league.
Amongst the brightest local stars is Pathum United striker Teerasil Dangda, who ventured into the Spanish league at 25 years old playing for Almeria in the 2014/15 season.
But Mui, as the national football legend is fondly known, could not adapt to Spanish football and only played 6 games, in which he scored one goal, before returning to Thailand midway through the season.
Rochela lauded Thai club presidents for their tight relationship with their teams, and the respect of supporters.
Two Thai players he particularly praises are offensive midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin, now playing for Japan’s Hokkaido Consadole, and defender Theerathon Bunmathan, also in Japan for Yokohama Marinos.
“They are proof that things are starting to be well done and Thai players are more and more competitive and prepared for superior leagues,” says the Spaniard.