With the Bluebirds opening their 2018/19 Premier League game at AFC Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon, Filipino international Neil Etheridge spoke of the pride he’ll be feeling to represent his country in front of the watching world.
Etheridge is set to become the first Filipino player to feature in England’s top flight – something that naturally excites the City shot-stopper.
“Hopefully if I step on the field next season, I’ll make history,” said Neil, with a proud smile. “I’m very proud to be Filipino and to represent the Philippines.”
Having recorded an impressive 19 clean sheets for the Bluebirds during last season’s promotion-winning campaign, Etheridge hopes his success will serve as a springboard for football in the Philippines.
He continued: “It’s a developing country in terms of football; we’ve got other sports such as boxing and basketball that we’re competing against.
"Football only came on to the map in 2010, so it’s still a long way off where it could be and should be. It’ll take some time to get there.
“It’s obviously great that the Premier League is shown there and around the whole of Asia and it’s fantastic that people over there will be able to watch games on a regular basis.
“Hopefully there’ll be more Cardiff City fans over in South East Asia now, too. I’ve speaking to the family out there; they’re enjoying it and riding the wave.”
And with Etheridge looking set to become the first Filipino international to feature in the Premier League, the City ‘keeper hopes that there’ll be many more Filipino players to follow in his footsteps.
“For me it’s always been about trying to promote football in the country,” Neil reflects.
“As an individual I can only take it so far, but I want to keep pushing so as to put the Philippines on the map.
“If we can start opening eyes and get Filipino people seeing that there is a way to come over and play in Europe, even though it’s on the other side of the world, then that would be great.”