By Edward Lao
The future was uncertain for the Philippine national football team goalkeeper Neil Etheridge. His contract with Fulham FC in the English Premier League (EPL) was due to expire at the end of this (2010-2011) football season. However, any doubts over where he would be next year were recently laid to rest after he put pen to paper on a 2-year contract extension.
In a telephone interview with ABS-CBN Europe, the 21-year-old British Filipino gave his thoughts.
“I’m very happy to accept the contract that they’ve offered me. There were a lot of negotiations that went on back and forth for nearly 3 or 4 months. There were other clubs that were taking a look as well but I think Fulham is the right place for me to stay for the time being. I’ve been here for 4 years now. I’ve also enjoyed my time this season and I get on with everyone at the club, including the manager and the coaches,” Etheridge said.
“I’m happy to play the next two years of my career at Fulham Football Club. I’ve met some great people along the way, like (goalkeepers) Mark Schwarzer and Pascal Zuberbuhler, who have really helped me in my development”, he added.
Now that contract talks are finished, Etheridge revealed he has been able to relax and concentrate on other things like moving into his recently purchased home in the county of Surrey, outside London.
With the season nearly over, qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil are on the horizon. The Azkals will face Sri Lanka on June 29 in the first leg of Asian qualifying. Etheridge is feeling positive.
“This year has been a big, big year for me. I was out of contract at the end of the season, but now I can look forward to the future. I’ve got World Cup qualifiers coming up end of June and early July, which I am looking forward to. I’ll be spending the majority of my time with the national team. Most of the lads (at Fulham) will be off, but it will be training as normal for me”, he said.
In the run-up to the first leg against Sri Lanka, Etheridge will be training in Germany with the rest of the Azkals from June 12.
“I am quite confident. I don’t think I’ve ever gone into a game not confident. There are a few hurdles that we need to get over on and off the pitch, I’ve stated that many a time, but I’m quite confident in the team’s ability and I’m sure we’ll all pull through,” he added.
The Philippines and Sri Lanka will face each other again in the return leg taking place in Manila on July 3.
The 6-foot-3 shot stopper, yet to make his first team debut for Fulham FC, also provided a hint that he may be gaining experience elsewhere next season.
“I’m looking forward to next season. I don’t know, but more than likely I’ll be going on loan. There are a few clubs, one in Switzerland, one in France, and a few in England that I’m looking at. I don’t really know yet what next year holds for me but I’ll take it as it comes and do my best.
“At the start of next season I should know where I’ll be and what’s going on. I know it sounds strange but I don’t expect to be at Fulham next season.” Source