Midfielder Nguyễn Trọng Hùng is a key footballer of V.League 1 side Thanh Hóa. Photo zing.vn
HÀ NỘI Midfielder Nguyễn Trọng Hùng of Thanh Hóa has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence, and if it were not for the coronavirus pandemic, he might be preparing for his first national team appearance.
The 21-year-old rebounded from being rejected by the Promotion Fund of Vietnamese Football Talent (PVF) centre early in his career to become a key player of the V.League 1's Thanh Hóa last season.
Following his impressive performance, he was called up to the Việt Nam U22 team to compete in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines last December in which Viêt Nam won the title.
He was called up to the national team for the first time for the Malaysia World Cup qualifier which Việt Nam won 1-0 last October and was in the Vietnamese line-up at the 2020 AFC U23 Championships early this year.
Despite having been injured, Hùng won the trust of South Korean coach Park Hang-seo.
Midfielder Nguyễn Trọng Hùng of Thanh Hóa is considered a new factor of Vietnamese football. Photo baomoi.com
Making a mark
Hùng had a solid V.League 1 season in 2019 under the guidance of coach Nguyễn Đức Thắng, allowing him to overcome his physical weaknesses.
Hùng played 22 matches and scored three goals, including a screamer against eventual champions Hà Nội FC in a surprise 4-1 win for his squad.
Picking up the ball on the left, Hùng shook U23 Vietnamese player Trương Văn Thái Quý out of his boots before cutting inside and thumping the ball into the net with authority.
Recalling the goal from nearly one year ago, Hùng could not hide his happiness.
“The goal against Hà Nội was my most memorable one. It also introduced me to Vietnamese football fans,” said Hùng.
Coach Thắng praised Hùng, saying: “Hùng is getting better and better. He was able to play for 90 minutes without having cramps like he used to. It was really a step forward. I personally think that Hùng is one of the young players who have the opportunity to improve in the national team”.
“His technique is not too excellent but he does have great speed. In the V.League 1 now, few can compare to Hùng's ability to accelerate over short distances. I think in the future, Hùng will have many chances to prove himself,” said Thắng.
Nguyễn Trọng Hùng (middle) and his Thanh Hóa team. Photo zing.vn
Hùng wasn't always so highly thought of though.
At the age of 11, Hùng began training with the Thanh Hóa provincial football gifted team, but a year later, he was deemed too young for full selection.
After the door of Thanh Hóa closed, another door opened, namely the PVF football training centre.
While his dream of becoming a profession layer seemed close, after two years, the 14-year-old boy that weighed less than 45kg did not meet the physical requirements of the PVF and was sent home.
However, Hùng wasn’t deterred.
Returning to his native land, he asked his cousin Mai Xuân Hợp, who played for Thanh Hóa at that time, to help him join Thanh Hóa junior team to train.
It was the turning point in his career.
Hùng received the attention of coach Nguyễn Thành Dũng of the junior team and he gradually developed under Dũng.
In 2016, Hùng was promoted to the senior team, however, he then was sent to a V.League 3 club, Phù Đổng FC, on loan.
A year later, he returned Thanh Hóa.
In his first training session, Hùng caught the eyes of coach Ljupko Petrovic, who led Red Star Belgrade to the European Cup in 1991.
"Hùng is a really talented player. He has a 'football quality'. You know, there are players that from the first meeting you will feel they have 'football quality' or not," said Petrovic.
When the door of the senior team was wide open, injuries became a obstacle, hindering Hùng's development. He couldn’t play with the senior team in 2017.
Coach Petrovic left Thanh Hóa after the team finished second in the V.League 1 in 2017. Without Petrovic, Hùng was once again sent to Phù Đổng for the 2018 season.
Last year marked Hùng's first year in the national top-flight.
After a successful 2019 season, Hùng is expected to kick on, once football can resume. VNS
From a waste product of the PVF centre, Nguyễn Trọng Hùng was a member of national team. Photo zing.vn