Falcao inspires Thai star Teerasil’s European dream

Reuters, MADRID

Sat, Jan 26, 2013 - Page 18

Thailand forward Teerasil Dangda hopes training with red-hot Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao could help him achieve his aim of one day playing in Europe.

The 24-year-old finished as joint-top scorer in the Thai Premier League with 24 goals as his club Muangthong United secured the league title last year.

He is spending two weeks training with last year’s Europa League winners Atletico as part of a collaboration deal signed between the clubs in 2010.

Atletico are one of Spain’s form teams and lie second in La Liga, eight points behind leaders Barcelona and seven ahead of city rivals Real Madrid in third.

Colombia striker Falcao is Atletico’s leading marksman with La Liga’s second highest tally of 18 goals so far this season and it was clear being able to train alongside the 26-year-old had made an impression.

“As I am a striker, obviously it is Falcao,” Teerasil said through an interpreter when asked who his favorite player was.

“It’s an opportunity that is not available to many players from Thailand so I want to thank my club and Atletico for the chance to be here,” he said.

Teerasil had an ill-fated few months with English Premier League side Manchester City five years ago when his chances of making an impression were hindered when he was denied a work permit.

Back in Europe again, Teerasil reckons he has learned from that experience and from his days working with Diego Simeone’s squad.

“The standard is different for example the strength, the speed of the ball, the quality of the players here at Atletico,” the slightly-built Teerasil added at Atletico’s Calderon stadium.

“I have learned a lot since my time with City. I have developed as a professional, I am more disciplined in my life and in games, in everything I do,” he said.

Wearing a dark-colored baseball jacket, skintight jeans and sporting a sparkling stud in each ear, Teerasil did not attract much attention from Atletico fans during an interview carried out in the club’s museum/trophy room.

Although only 24, Teerasil has already scored 28 goals in 54 internationals for Thailand, but he is little known in the Spanish capital.

“The level has improved,” Teerasil said when asked if he had noticed an improvement in Thai soccer from his last European adventure. “But Thailand needs more time to reach the same level as here.”

Teerasil has to return to Thailand for the start of Muangthong United’s season next month, leaving behind other United players who will remain at Atletico to continue with their development.

“During my time here I want to learn as much as possible to be able to improve my abilities for the future,” Teerasil said.

“I am going to try [to get to play in Europe] and will take the opportunity if I get it,” he said.