|Đặng Văn Lâm in action for the national team. Photo laodong.vn
Matthew McConaughey has probably never heard of Đặng Văn Lâm, but unbeknownst to him, Texas’ favourite son has provided a pearl of wisdom for the Vietnamese goalkeeper.
“Sometimes you’ve got to go back, to actually move forward.”
The actor uttered the line in a car advertisement several years ago that I’ve seen parodied countless times, and while it's a line worthy of ridicule when applied to a Lexus, it makes a lot of sense for Lâm.
The Russian-Vietnamese stopper has had a tough time the last few years shortly after cementing himself as Việt Nam's number one and possibly Southeast Asia's best.
Lâm moved from Hải Phòng to Thai club Muangthong United in 2019 and while he initially saw a lot of playing time, he quickly fell out of favour.
A subsequent move to Japan's Cerezo Osaka in 2021 made little sense to me at the time as he seemed unlikely to start over Kim Jin-hyeon of South Korea, and so it proved.
Reports started coming out over the last week that Lâm may be about to sign for a Vietnamese club, and while it may be a move backwards, it could prove the best way to get his career moving in the right direction again.
At the end of the day, footballers need to play week in and week out to be at the top of their game, and no amount of training can replace competitive action.
Lâm has been linked with Nam Định, HCM City FC and Bình Định and while the coaching he received in Japan will undoubtedly have been of a higher level than at any of those clubs, the benefits of playing far outweigh that in my book.
It's also important for the national team that Lâm plays regular club football, as his understudies for the senior team are far and away less talented players.
Lâm surely wants to play at a higher level than the V.League 1 and he is capable of it, but this move backwards doesn't necessarily rule that out either.
Lâm is only 28 and as a goalkeeper could have 10 more years left in him, so if he can dominate at this lower level, there's no reason he can't try and make the step up to another Asian (or even European) league once again.
Selfishly as well, it is exciting to have a player of Lâm's talent plying his trade in Việt Nam again.
So while Lâm has gone back for now, don't be surprised to see him moving forward before long. VNS