|Hồ Văn Cường in action during Việt Nam 2-1 win over Qatar in the AFC U20 Championship in March. Cường has made a name for himself in the national youth team again after being fired five years ago. — Photo baobariavungtau.com.vn|
HÀ NỘI — One was fired from his club, and the other was banned for months due to youthful errors.
Doors to their dreams seemed to have closed to Hồ Văn Cường and Võ Minh Trọng, but they refused to give up. They kept working hard and proved that their silly mistakes were just that... silly mistakes.
The youngsters have made remarkable comebacks to become key members of their teams. Early shocks in their careers have been lessons that they will never forget and now they are striving for the best.
Born in 2023 in Nghệ An Province, Cường grew up with a big dream of becoming a football player which would help him escape poverty.
"I saw many players changing their lives thanks to football. I dreamed of a day that football could help me get out of poor life," said Cường.
At the age of nine, Cường was recruited to train at the PVF Football Centre. Despite his small size, he could play well in different positions. With good speed and technique and a smart style of play, he secured a place in the national U16 team in 2018.
"The dream was coming true to me but it was also a nightmare when I was shamefully kicked out because of a stupid mistake that can't be forgotten," Cường recalled.
"I joked something bad about a coach. I returned to PVF which later also fired me. I was extremely disappointed and I cried a lot. I thought I disappointed my father too as when he was alive he always encouraged me and hoped I would succeed in football."
Luckily, Sông Lam Nghệ An FC managers decided to give Cường a second chance.
"Coaches encouraged me to train hard. The club managers also asked the Việt Nam Football Federation to give me a chance to play football again," said Cường.
Coach Lê Kỳ Phương added: "The important thing is that Cường never gave up his dream of playing football. He shows his perseverance, persistence, awareness and responsibility in training.
"The incident partly made him stronger and more mature. I am pleased to see the great progress that he has made."
Five years later, Cường, who helped Sông Lam Nghệ An win the U17 championship trophy in 2020, was called up to the national U18 team.
In early 2023, Cường was called to the U23 squad, a big step that lifted him closer to the national team.
"My life has changed a lot. I competed in the youth tournament, joining club's first team and the national (U23) team. Wearing the national jersey and standing side by side with the big guys in the team is an honour," said Cường.
"My job is doing my best in every game."
Speaking about his player, coach Phillipe Troussier said Cường helped strengthen the balance in attack between the two flanks of Việt Nam as he could play right back and left back. He was active and did his job really well. The tactician also appreciate Cường's perseverance and patience, saying it was great that he knew how to pick himself up after falling down.
Back from match fixing
Cần Thơ Province-born Trọng joined Đồng Tháp FC when he was 15 in 2016 before being key member of the U17 and U19 national teams.
|Võ Minh Trọng returned stronger after his match fixing scandal. He is now a regular face with the national team. — Photo bongdaplus.vn|
But in a stupid moment of youth, Trọng and 10 teammates of Đồng Tháp found themselves involved in a match fixing scandal. He was banned for six months by FIFA, a heavy shock for the teenager who believed football was his passion.
Family and friends rallied around to pull him out of difficulties. Trọng took part in amateur tournament to maintain his fitness and technique.
They also helped him to overcome public criticism and ensured he was confident to start again.
Six months after the ban, Trọng was back and helped Đồng Tháp win bronze in the National U21 Football Championship in late 2020.
“I thought about quitting football and planning to go to vocational school. But during that time, I just stayed at home. I could not stand up after such humiliated affair," said defender Trọng.
"However, when I thought carefully, I told myself that as a man, I had to get back stronger and better."
Trọng was called to play for the U23 team at the 2022 Southeast Asian championship. However, he did not compete because of a positive test for COVID-19.
He won the belief of coaches and earned a regular place in Việt Nam's team at the 2023 Doha Cup and the 32nd SEA Games where Việt Nam took the bronze.
Now, he is a part of Troussier's plan at the national senior team who are fighting for a place at the 2026 World Cup.
"It is my honour to play for the national team. Here I learn a lot from my senior teammates. Playing with them, I also feel more confident and stronger," said Trọng.
"I always prepare myself to be ready and focused in all matches, bringing the best results for Việt Nam." — VNS