|Nguyễn Thị Bích Thùy of Việt Nam (left) tries to overcome American defender Crystal Dunn during the Group E match between Việt Nam and the US on July 22. — VNS Photo Đức Đồng|
Nguyễn Thị Bích Thùy closed her eyes and emotionally sang the national anthem.
A few minutes later, she was one of 23 representatives of Việt Nam to compete in their first historic FIFA Women's World Cup, opening a new chapter in her career and national football.
At New Zealand's Eden Park, Thùy and her teammates suffered a 3-0 loss to defending champions the US, but their performance was praised all over the world.
Coach Mai Đức Chung said Việt Nam came to the world's largest football competition not to breezily walk through it but to play and learn.
Thùy came to gain experience, bring home lessons and make her father's dream come true.
A talented footballer
Thùy was scouted for HCM City Football Club in 2008 when she was 14 years old.
"I had never played on a real football pitch before - just the mini ground in my hometown. Luckily, after tests, I was recruited although I had no idea about the rules and regulations," said Thùy a native of Quảng Ngãi Province.
|Nguyễn Thị Bích Thùy (right) and Vietnamese players sing the national anthem prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 Group E match between USA and Việt Nam at Eden Park on July 22 in Auckland, New Zealand. — Photo of FIFA|
Despite being a late trainee, Thùy quickly caught up with other players and joined the senior team of HCM City FC in 2014.
Speaking about her trainee, coach Đoàn Thị Kim Chi said Thùy was a quite proactive player who had qualities that helped her have a regular place in the starting line-ups of HCM City and national teams.
"She is short but fast. She is small but strong. She can play in different positions. Despite being a midfielder, she can play as a defender in both two wings. She also can manage the ball well and score with both feet and is always full of determination," said Chi.
The 1.53m-tall player is also good at running and turning with the ball at high speed. She's a multi-style football player who, in her own words, prefers to attack more than defend.
At the age of 21, Thùy was called into the national team and she has never made anyone on the coaching board disappointed about their decision.
"I am a patient person. I always try my best to do my job, no matter what challenge I face. I never give up as my father told me ‘Give it your all if you have a passion for the game. Try your best and don't leave yourself any regrets,'" she said.
In early 2016, Thùy was with the national team when they travelled to China for the Rio Olympics qualification.
On that day, when she wore the national jersey for the first time, her father, Thùy's biggest supporter, died.
"He died because of severe illness. I was shocked but could not come back home so I tried to worship him from far away. Since then, whenever I take part in a tournament, I pray to him to be by my side and help me win," said Thùy.
|Nguyễn Thị Bích Thùy (right) runs the ball during the Việt Nam vs US match in Group E of the 2023 FIFA World Cup on July 22. — VNS Photo Đức Đồng|
"When he was alive, he encouraged me to keep going all the time in my footballing pursuit. He wished to see me competing for HCM City, wearing the national jersey with my name on the back and playing at the Women's World Cup. Unfortunately, he could not witness all his wishes become real."
Thùy did better than that. She has played 64 times for Việt Nam internationally and won titles in the regional championships in 2019 and SEA Games in 2019, 2022 and 2023.
Thùy has also scored 13 goals in her career including a brace in a 7-0 rout of Tajikistan before her heroic performance in Việt Nam's 2-1 win against Chinese Taipei in the playoffs of the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022 in February in India.
The goal opened the door for Việt Nam to enter the FIFA World Cup for the first time in history.
"My father followed me everywhere and brought luck to me. I told him I wanted a World Cup slot. And I burst into tears when we fulfilled the dream of an entire nation – including my father. He should be very proud of me," she told Việt Nam News.
At the World Cup, after a world-headlined defeat to the US - the world's top women's team - Việt Nam still has two big obstacles of the Netherlands, No 9, and Portugal, No 21 in the coming days.
"They are at a world level that we have never reached before. But we will do our best and will not let our supporters down. We will play with determination, confidence and strong spirit," said Thùy.
The Cristiano Ronaldo fan is already dreaming of scoring another goal.
“I want to showcase my best form in the Women’s World Cup and in particular, I hope I can score a goal."
Her coach Mai Đức Chung, when asked by Việt Nam News, happily predicted that Thùy would be the one scoring for Việt Nam at the Women's World Cup. VNS