by Jonas Terrado
Neil Etheridge is expected to make his English Premier League debut tonight when newly-promoted Cardiff City visits Bournemouth to open new season at the Vitality Stadium.
The Philippine Azkals goalkeeper will get a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream and become the first Filipino to suit up in the top-tier league of the English football system after Cardiff secured a spot for finishing second in last season’s English Football League Championship.
“Hopefully, if I step on the field, I’ll make history then it will be something else,” Etheridge said in a recent interview with the Premier League’s Facebook page.
Etheridge had plenty of chances to play in the Premier League when he was with Fulham from 2008 to 2014 but was the club’s third-choice goalie behind Mark Schwarzer and David Stockdale.
His only major appearance came when he started in a Dec. 2011 match against Odense Boldklub in the UEFA Europa League.
Etheridge is determined to make an impact for Cardiff City, which will have to finish at least 17th place out of 20 clubs to avoid relegation to the League Championship.
It will be one of three domestic competitions Etheridge is slated to play as Cardiff City will also play in the FA Cup and League Cup, two knockout-style tournaments.
Suiting up in the Premier League will complete major feat for Etheridge, who was the starting keep when the Azkals qualified to next year’s Asian Cup with a 2-1 win over Tajikistan last March at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.