Philippine Azkals winger James Younghusband retires from football
Philippine Azkals mainstay James Younghusband is retiring from professional football, he announced on social media on Thursday.
"Time to say goodbye. Thank you for the amazing memories. I have loved playing this game," Younghusband wrote.
"Thank you to my family, bosses, managers, coaches, team mates, opponents and all my supporters who have been part of my professional career. I feel lucky to have experienced wonderful memories and thankful for every moment of my time with my clubs and country."
The 33-year old Younghusband's retirement comes eight months after his younger brother Phil Younghusband decided to hang up his boots, officially drawing a close to the siblings' on-pitch involvement in Philippine football.
The Younghusband brothers introduced themselves to local football scene as part of the 2005 South East Asian Games Philippine football team. The pair couldn't propel the Philippines to a podium finish, but that occasion proved to be the start of an international career spanning 15 years.
James and Phil -- whose eligibility for the Philippines was famously discovered via a computer game -- accumulated a total of 209 caps and 64 goals for the Azkals. James himself finished with 101 caps and 12 goals throughout his career.
The elder Younghusband honed his craft as a youth player with English Premier League giants Chelsea. James moved to the Philippines in 2009, where he and his brother signed with local club Loyola Meralco.
The two Younghusbands eventually moved to the Davao Aguilas in 2017, before the club folded just a year later. After Phil's retirement last November, James moved to join Philippine champions Ceres Negros FC -- where he was part of the 2019 league and cup double winning squads.
James' last involvement with the Azkals was as part of the squad during their 2019 AFC Asian Cup
Former teammates and coaches throughout Younghusband's career paid tribute on social media -- the most glowing of praises coming from former Azkals coach Simon McMenemy, who described James' career as "history changing."
McMenemy also referenced the elder Younghusband's late equalizer to salvage a 2-2 draw against Laos in the AFF Suzuki Cup Qualifiers in 2010 to help the Philippines move on to the tournament proper.
"Despite the fame and notoriety, you have always stayed humble and grounded. No easy feat," McMenemy said. "Congrats on a history changing career and scorer of the most underrated yet most important goal in Azkals history."
"You're the man! Was an honor to play with you, in front of me for many years! Miss owning that right side with you, bro." former Azkals fullback Anton del Rosario said.
"Congratulations on a fabulous career," Azkals keeper Patrick Deyto added. "It was a pleasure to have played with and against you."