Alphonse Areola first Filipino to win FIFA World Cup

Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - July 17, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos joined the celebration of France’s triumph in the FIFA World Cup in Russia, taking pride in having a Pinoy footballer, reserve keeper Alphonse Areola, reap success with Les Bleus.

The 25-year-old Areola, who was born to Filipino parents who immigrated to France, is being hailed as the “first player with Filipino blood to win the World Cup.”

Areola had long been eyed by the Philippine Azkals since his days with the French youth squad, with manager Dan Palami inviting him to join Phl XI back in 2011. But Areola’s stint with France flourished and after starring in the Junior Les Bleus’ championship run in the U20 World Cup in 2013, his chances of being elevated to the French senior team skyrocketed. By 2015, he was already called up for the Les Bleus and eventually made it to their final roster in  Russia.

“It wasn’t the Azkals he represented in the World Cup but being part of the champion France team in the biggest tournament of all is something to make us Filipinos proud,” said football fan Jona Tamayo.

The 6-foot-5 Areola was the third choice keeper behind skipper Hugo Loris and Steve Mandanda and didn’t earn his cap in the Russia WC but he’s expected to get his chance.

Areola is one of 18 players on the French team with immigrant background, along with Paul Pogba from Guinea, Algerian Kylian Mbappe and Cameroonian Samuel Umtiti.

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