One of the most esteemed foreigners to grace Philippine football can finally suit up for the country in the international arena.
Bienvenido Marañon is the Spanish-born forward who currently plays for four-time Philippine champions United City Football Club. And he is now a Filipino citizen by virtue of Republic Act no. 11570.
“Ako ay Pilipino,” posted the newly-minted kababayan on the social media platform Twitter with the hashtags ‘#labanpilipinas’ and ‘#puso’. He also added a photo of himself in a United City training kit with the Philippine flag as the background.
The 5-foot-8 winger has taken the Oath of Allegiance alongside the submission of documents that prove his fulfillment of the aforementioned requirement. Now, the Philippine Football Federation can now start the process of notifying FIFA, the world governing body of football, of his change of allegiance from Spain to the Philippines.
It has been a long wait for Maranon to finally achieve this moment. The original expected time for his naturalization was before the Philippine Azkals’ final three joint 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifying matches, which were held in Sharjah, UAE, last month. Unforeseen circumstances, though, delayed the inevitable.
The former Cadiz player first started making his name in Philippine football when he signed for Ceres-Negros Football Club in the defunct United Football league under the advice of his good friend, Carli De Murga. He then won three straight Philippines Football league crowns from 2017 to 2019; one Copa Paulino Alcantara championship in 2019; and the distinction of being the ASEAN Zonal Champions in the 2017 AFC Cup.
Marañon is also the top scorer of the prestigious AFC Cup with 35 goals.
In the immediate future, Azkals coach Scott Cooper can call up Marañon for the upcoming Suzuki Cup. He can also participate in the final qualifying round of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
Marañon hopes to build on this positive development with a goal tomorrow evening. United City faces Chinese side Beijing Guoan in their rubber match in the 2021 AFC Champions League in Uzbekistan.