After almost five years, Patrick Deyto finally saw action once again for the Philippine Azkals.
The 33-year-old goalkeeper kept a clean sheet as the home side prevailed 1-0 against Nepal on Thursday night, marking coach Michael Weiss’ return at the helm.
Deyto made crucial stops against Nepal’s attempts to protect the Azkals’ slender lead, which was earned thanks to Jarvey Gayoso’s 49th-minute goal. For his efforts, the former De La Salle University standout was awarded the Man of the Match.
“First of all, I’m so happy to be back. It’s been four years since I’ve been with the national team. There have been a lot of issues in my previous clubs. So now, finally, I was able to make it work. I’m very happy to help the team, but like what Coach Weiss said, it’s not perfect. But I think it’s very important to get the win,” said Deyto.
“We talked about it in the team meeting that we need a good result to create momentum for the Azkals. We want to instill more belief in the country for our team. This is the first part. It’s a good first step, so we will be better on the 19th against Chinese Taipei.”
The win against Nepal marked the first time in almost five years that the 6-foot-1 stopper played the full 90 minutes in an Azkals match since a 2-1 defeat to Vietnam in the second leg of the semi-finals of the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup.
Many things have changed since then. Deyto represented the Davao Aguilas in the Philippines Football League back then and has since moved to Stallion Laguna, Thai clubs Suphanburi and PT Prachuap, and then Stallion Laguna once again.
During his last appearance, Phil Younghusband started as a forward, and while a few familiar faces remained such as Carli de Murga, Kevin Ingreso, Martin Steuble, and Stephan Schrock, it is safe to say that it is a new era for the national team.
“Carli (De Murga) and Kevin (Ingreso), I’ve played with them for quite a while before. Obviously, Kevin is not a natural center-back, but I know him personally. We just did our best today,” said Deyto. “We made it work, and I think that’s one of the qualities of our players in the national team. We’re all very versatile. If we need to adjust, we can play in a different position.
“Sometimes in the international break, like what the coach said a while ago, we have a lot of injuries, unexpected last-minute pullouts, so we cannot really try to do anything except try to find a solution. We want to be proactive. We don’t want to make excuses. We just found a solution, and it was a good one.”
Deyto first came into the Azkals picture in 2012 when Weiss and his staff invited him to join the team’s training sessions. He was on the bench when the Philippines lost 2-0 against Indonesia on August 14, 2013, with Eduard Sacapaño as the goalkeeper.
He finally made his debut for the Azkals in a 0-0 stalemate against Malaysia on March 1, 2014, under the tutelage of Thomas Dooley. Almost a decade later, he is now one of the most experienced goalkeepers who can be called up for the national team.
“The saves weren’t so difficult. Actually, I’m surprised to be the Man of the Match, to be honest with you. But I did what I had to do. I did my job. Yes, I also need to improve on other aspects of the game. I think as a team, we will talk about it in the meeting,” said Deyto.
“We will watch our game and try to improve using video analysis so that we can learn better for the next game. But yeah, it’s a good first game, a good first step, and we will all try to be better for the next game,” he continued.
“I have a different perspective from before. I just try to enjoy playing football. I know the importance of representing the country. I’m so proud of it. I’m always honored. Just giving my 100 percent is all I can do. I cannot guarantee anything. I will give my 100 percent every game, every training, and share it with my family, the people I love.”
As one of the most successful homegrown Filipino football players, Deyto is a flagbearer of the country’s local developmental system. Slowly but surely, more and more homegrown talents are making strides in the PFL as well as overseas.
Ultimately, though, all of these players need support so that they can fulfill their potential. The former Green Booter has paved the way, and it is up to others to follow his path to success in the sport.
“It’s possible. A lot of players have been doing it. Like what Coach Weiss said, we have Jax (Peña), we have Andres (Aldeguer), Sandro (Reyes), who is playing in Europe. We have so many players in the UAAP. Amani (Aguinaldo) is also homegrown. He’s just not here because of a slight problem with his knee,” said Deyto.
“Filipinos have the quality to play football. All they really need is support. The support of the people, the federation, the Azkals. Maybe some sponsors to help the team, and the sky’s the limit for the Azkals, really.”