After my “Life after TPL’ article was published last week, I re-read it and felt a twinge of guilt. Sure, it was crammed full of grumbling as is prerequisite for most English fans, but I realised I had done an injustice to the leagues and players.
Whereas most European lower leagues use physical presence to compensate for lower skill levels, Thai leagues still have talented, quick and ambitious players looking to make a name for themselves. In the mold of England’s lower levels some twenty odd years ago, the Thai regional leagues can still act as an opportunity for overlooked players to make a name for themselves and younger players to get to grips with the reality of pro-football. Sure there are bad days at the office, but let me be crystal clear this time: there can be a whole lot of entertainment and ability at regional and D1 level.
It’s not just the locals either. While Mario Djovski, Michael Byrne and Lee Tuck are making their mark in the top flight, under the surface there have been some impressive western players making an impact for their team, on a quest for a TPL shot.
For this article I asked two friends who supported non-TPL teams to describe one of their favourite western players, before throwing my own choices into the mix…..
Svein, Bangkok United supporter.
“Romain Gasmi is a French striker. The captain of the team, he`s a player that`s involved in play all the time and all over the pitch. He`s good at freekicks, shooting and finding others who can score. He itracks all over the place, like Wayne Rooney.”
Here’s Romain Gasmi in action, including an overhead-kick goal:
Vinnie, Korat FC supporter. ( Vinnie’s Korat site. )
“I choose David Lebras. The 29 year-old Frenchman has become a cult figure in Korat since his arrival in 2010. A right-sided midfielder with an eye for goal, Lebras has both thrilled fans with his on-field performances and infuriated coaches off it. Despite the sullen, hangdog demeanor, there is no harder working player in the squad. Combine that tenacity with a natural flair, pace and that indescribable ability to just ‘make something happen’ when he’s on the pitch, and you have Korat’s most compelling player.
His flaw is his inability to see eye-to-eye with almost every coach he’s ever worked with. His relationship with the current Korat coach Tewet Kamolsin has deteriorated to such an extent that the 2011 player-of-the-season is now struggling to even find a place on the bench.
It would be such a shame to see his Korat career peter out in this way. However, the arrival of new coach Reuther Moreira may be just what the Breton needs, or maybe not…
This video is just him scoring a penalty, but it was in the final play-off game last year against Roiet and video is of a good quality.”
Greg (that’s your author). Muangthong United and Nonthaburi FC supporter.
“The two best foreigners I’ve seen at D2 level are two Canadians named Jelani Grant and Ryan Reece. Jelani is a deep midfielder who reads the game so well and is so composed I’m surprised a team at this level managed to secure him. Ryan is a confident striker who can play wide or central as his team need. Both players really showed the benefit that experience of western football can bring to Thai teams. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see either of them pop up at a higher level.”