Reichelt looking to fly the flag for Philippines

The pride of Philippines will be firmly on Patrick Reichelt's mind as he embarks on the latest chapter in his career at Thai Division 1 League side Singhtarua.

Reichelt giving his opponent the runaround!
Gabriel Tan

By Gabriel Tan

Last week, Reichelt became the second Philippine player to ply his trade in Thailand after it was confirmed he had signed for Singhtarua, following in the footsteps of Buriram United striker Javier Patino.

After achieving success in his spell with United Football League (UFL) giants Global, who he helped win the title in 2012 en-route to establishing himself as one of the country's best players, moving abroad was the next logical step in the 25-year-old's career.

And although Singhtarua, unlike Buriram, are currently not in Thailand's top flight, Reichelt is relishing the opportunity of helping them return to where they belong by winning promotion this season.

"Of course, I'm really excited," he told FOX Sports. "It's a big opportunity for me now to be playing in Thailand.

"Singhtarua FC are one of the biggest teams in the history of Thai football and belong in the Premier League.

"It is great that I'll have the chance of helping them hopefully get back there."

Given how Thailand is currently regarded by many as the strongest Southeast Asian country when it comes to club football, the fact that Reichelt has been signed by Singhtarua is a huge testament to his ability.

The skillful winger admits it is a real honour to be representing Philippines in a foreign land and is determined to do his people proud, starting on Saturday in what is likely to be his debut in the league game against Trat.

"I'm really happy that a club like Singhtarua decided to sign me," Reichelt revealed. "It makes me proud to have been chosen to fill one of their limited foreigner spots.

"I've already received some messages from the Filipino people here in Thailand and that also makes me proud; having Filipinos here supporting me.

"I'm fully fit now and 100% ready for Saturday, when I'll have my first game for the club at home. I'm really looking forward to playing in front of this crazy big fan base."

While Saturday will mark the first time he plays club football in Thailand, Reichelt is not a complete stranger to the country, having represented the Azkals at the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup in Bangkok.

His dazzling displays down the wing, especially in the Group A wins over Vietnam and Myanmar, really saw him announce himself on the regional stage, and the player admits the tournament played a huge part in his decision to make Thailand his next port of call.

"Of course, the Suzuki Cup played a big part in this move," he explained. "It was a great opportunity to present myself on the biggest Southeast Asian stage.

"Straight after that, I had agents contacting me. After the AFF Suzuki Cup, it was my goal to play in Thailand.

"We played Thailand in the group stage so I already had a first view of the impressive level. I believe I can learn a lot here.

"But of course, I will not lie. The fact that footballers are paid better here also played a role in my decision."

Although everyone in the Filipino football community will have their fingers crossed that Reichelt does achieve much success at Singhtarua, many were sad to see him leave Philippines given he was one of the big names in the UFL and was a favourite amongst the fans.

Likewise, the affable Berlin native, who was born to a German father and a Filipina mother, admits he will look back on his time at Global with fond memories.

"What happened in Philippine football in the last years has just been crazy," Reichelt added.

"I will miss the fans, who were not only great in Manila, but also everywhere I went with Global and the Azkals. I had great times with Global.

"Of course, you cannot be friends with everyone in your team but I had some really good friendships with my team-mates. To mention two of them, Carli [de Murga] and Denis [Wolf] are great persons to play with.

"We won the UFL in 2012 and finished second this year, so I think it's something you can be happy with."

Given how it has not even been a fortnight since he officially completed his transfer to Singhtarua, the former Energie Cottbus man admits he's still getting used to having Bangkok as his new home.

However, having spent almost his entire life living in big cities, Reichelt does not believe he will have any problem coping with the lifestyle.

"I know Bangkok is really busy!" he said, with a laugh. "There are a lot of people everywhere.

"It's easy for me to adjust after living in two big capitals in Berlin and Manila. I need a lot more time to see all of Bangkok before I can call it home; right now I still feel like someone who's on vacation.

"I just moved into my new condominium, which is great and not too far from the stadium."

But for the many attractions the Thai capital has to offer its visitors, Reichelt remains focused on what he's there to achieve.

And given, when asked what was the one thing he hoped to achieve at his new club, he replied with the same conviction and determination that saw him overcome a serious anterior cruciate ligament injury to establish himself as one of the region's finest wingers, one suspects he could just deliver on his promise.

"My goal is to play in the Thai Premier League," he declared. "And I hope, in the coming months, I can take that step together with Singhtarua."

Singhtarua are currently fourth in the Division 1 League and are only a point behind Bangkok FC, who occupy the third and final promotion berth.

Image courtesy of WSG

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