Niweat Siriwong: With Schafer we win the AFF Suzuki Cup

Off the pitch - Interview Niweat Siriwong

Niweat Siriwong
image: © Thananuwat Srirasant

More than 100 international caps, captain of Pattaya United, and a bastion of calm. This is Niweat Siriwong. In 2011 he gave his comeback for the Thai national team.

Niweat Siriwong had finished his international career for a first time at the age of 32. As worst comes to worst because of injuries, Winfried Schafer called him up last year and he gave his come back. But yet he tells us, he could end his international career finally after the AFF Suzuki Cup. The Pattaya United captain collected experiences in Singapore and Vietnam in the course of his long career. He spent nearly eight years abroad, before he has returned to Thailand. For the national team he appeared in nearly all big tournaments, except the SEA-Games. Why and whether he steps down from international stage; this and much more he betrays us during the interview. Niweat, you just have signed a new contract with Pattaya United. For how long?

Niweat: For two more years. So you are now 34 ...

Niweat: ...I turn 35 this year !! are your plans with the Thai National Team. How many more years are you likely to play for?

Niweat: I don't know: End of this year we do have a major tournament with the AFF Suzuki Cup. Maybe after this I will stop my international career. So are you thinking as Therdsak did? That with your retirement you can make room for younger players?

Niweat: Yes, sure. I think the same way. I already retired from international duties before. But the national team had a lot of injured players, so I got a call up and Iíve been back in since then. And why did you stop your international career? If we are right, you stopped for the first time at the age of 32.

Niweat: I wanted to focus on my club playing career and give younger players a chance to play and gain international experience. There were a lot of new young players coming in at that time. If you look at the current generation of defenders, who in your opinion is the best?

Niweat: There are many good players out there but the problem is they are missing match practice and experience. And if you have to play Asian Cup or World Cup qualifiers you need to have experienced players, even if they are young. Winnie rates you very highly, saying you are very professional. How is your relationship and collaboration with him, and what do you think about him?

Niweat: He is a very good coach. He gives a lot of opportunities to young players, no matter where they play. Winnie is watching a lot of games in Thailand and every time he sees a player and thinks he is good enough, he invites him. Because sometimes you can also find good players in the leagues below the Thai Premier League. He is seeing so many games at different places and scouting players. You played under so many coaches, which one you would consider the best for you?

Niweat: Winfried Schafer. Despite your age and the huge experience you can fall back on, are there still things you can learn from him?

Niweat: I think there is a lot of things I can learn from him. Because maybe my future lies in coaching. Talking about your future career, you are from Nakhon Phanom. So do you have any plans to help your local team?

Niweat Siriwong

Niweat Siriwong
image: ©

Niweat: Maybe not immediately. At first I want to start as an assistant coach and learn a lot. Staying here at Pattaya or maybe Bangkok would enable me to gain my coaching license degree. There are many players whom want to coach instantly. But I want to go step by step. But do you always follow how Nakhon Panom is doing? How they have played and so on?

Niweat: Yes of course. Because my younger brother is playing for Nakhon Phanom. You have played so many games in your career, is there any game you would like to highlight?
Niweat: Like you said I played so many. But maybe the games against Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester or Arsenal. But also the games against Brazil and Germany of course. Paolo Maldini is your role model; why is that?

Niweat: Because I am a fan of AC Milan. And even at the age of 40, Maldini was very strong. He was a versatile player too, who could play left, right and centre back. You played in the S-League, than Vietnam and Thailand. What can you tell us about that?

Niweat: When I went to Singapore they were the first to get professional, they had big teams, big spending. S-League was very famous at that time. After a while it went down and Vietnam became what Singapore was before. And than of course Thailand, which is why I eventually returned.

"With Winfried Schafer as coach I am sure we will win the AFF Suzuki Cup."
During your international career you played all major tournaments with Thai National Teams. But you have never played at the SEA Games. Can you explain to us why?

Niweat: When I was 19 years old, I was in the final 25. But I couldn't make the cut (cut mark was 20). Three years later, when I was 22, I was elected to play Olympic qualifiers. And at the time of the SEA Games we had to play against India and Japan. The coach wanted me to stay with the Olympic team. And two years after that the U23 rule for the SEA Games was introduced. You have two more years with Pattaya, what are your goals and aims?

Niweat: I want to give 100% in every game I play. It doesn't matter if you lose, draw or win. Because if you have given 100% or even more you can leave the pitch satisfied. And what about winning the AFF Suzuki Cup by end of the year or maybe to become a champion with Pattaya?

Niweat: Oh that would be nice. Good idea! What do you think of Thailandís chances of winning the Suzuki Cup?

Niweat: I think we will be champions. So you don't worry about Malaysia?

Niweat: No. With Winfried Schafer as coach I am sure we will win the AFF Suzuki Cup. In your opinion, what has to change and to improve in order to have a better National Team and better Thai players?

Niweat: Some clubs have to change their attitude. They have to release the players for the National Team in time. But some clubs holding back the players till the very last minute. As was the case before the Oman game, you mean?

Niweat: Yes. And what are your thoughts on organizing issues?

Niweat: We do need more time to prepare. Five days are fine, but two weeks are better. And your thoughts on young players?

Niweat: I think young players now getting too much money too early. So they can afford a nice new car; they have beautiful girlfriends. Just all about lifestyle. And so they are losing focus on football.

We recored this interview in April 2011. On 18 July 2011 Niweat celebrated his 35 birthday. Belated best wishes!And many thanks for talking to you.

Author: lokomotive
Editor: @Paul__Hewitt
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