As recently as two years ago, Iain Ramsay was eyeing the Socceroos’ troublesome left fullback spot as the national team went through a transitional period before the AngePostecoglou revolution. But this week, the Sydney-born winger is expected to make his international debut for the Philippines, the nation of his mother.
It comes more than four years after the former Melbourne City flyer first appeared on the radar of the ambitious Azkals, who have surged up the FIFA rankings since beginning their policy of recruiting foreign talent of Filipino descent. In their opening 2018 World Cup qualifiers, the Azkals host Bahrain in Manila on Thursday before travelling to neutral territory in Doha to play Yemen on June 16.
The Philippine Azkals are set to try once more for a slot in the prestigious FIFA World Cup when they tangle with tormentor Bahrain in their first match for the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers on Thursday night at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan.
Ramsay, 27, is predicted to feature in the 23-man squad, with more than half the players born outside the Philippines, in countries like Germany, Spain, Denmark and England. The converts include the poster boy of Filipino football, Phil Younghusband, the 70-cap striker was once a junior at English champions, Chelsea. In May, Melbourne City announced that Ramsay was released from the club.
Ramsay arrived in Manila last week just as his A-League contract with Melbourne City was expiring. He says that he’s not worried about his club future with several Asian teams expressing interest. Indeed, he’ll be very much in the shop window during the AFC second round World Cup qualifying matches.
Started his professional career in 2010, Ramsay previously made competitive appearances for Sydney FC, Sydney Olympic and Adelaide United before moving to Melbourne City in 2013. Apart from Australia, Ramsay is eligible to play for Scotland through his father who is originally from Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Ramsay is also eligible to play for the Philippines through his mother’s heritage.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but I have made my mind up to play for the Philippines and I’m 100 percent committed,” said Ramsay. “Coach Thomas Dooley has been in touch with me for some time now, eager to get me to play for the Azkals. I’ve followed the team now for the past two years, with their results and recruitments, and I feel now is the right time for me to represent them.”
Ramsay aims of playing for Australia but also considers the Philippines as “a great option” if he is not able to get a call-up from the Australian national team.