Midfielder Vũ Văn Thanh prays after scoring the opener for HAGL against Quảng Nam in the V.League 1. – Photo sport5.vn
HÀ NỘI — Vũ Văn Thanh has scored some important goals in his career, but few will have meant more to him than his most recent strike for Hoàng Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) in the V.League 1.
The fullback dedicated the goal to his father, who is bravely battling cancer in his hometown of Hải Dương.
On July 17, HAGL beat Quảng Nam 3-1 at home at Pleiku Stadium in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai. Striker Nguyễn Văn Toàn was the man of the match as he had a part in all three goals, but Thanh was the real talking point afterwards.
Thanh opened the scoring from the penalty spot early on after Van Toan won the spot-kick. After scoring, he folded his hands in front of his face as if praying.
This stood in marked contrast to his usual exuberant celebrations, with screams and running towards teammates. Thanh is perhaps best known for his cheeky smile celebration after scoring the decisive penalty in the shootout against Qatar to send U23 Việt Nam to the final of the AFC U23 Championship in 2018.
Midfielder Vũ Văn Thanh celebrates his crucial penalty in the AFC U23 Championship 2018. – Photo cauthu.com.vn
The 24-year-old player said his goal against Quảng Nam was for his father, Vũ Văn Hộ, who is facing terminal cancer.
“A few months ago, when realising his heath not good, my father went to the hospital. The doctors determined that my father had cancer.
"I didn’t dare to believe it because he was very healthy before, worked and did things, even drunk wine with friends.
"Doctors said they couldn’t treat him any more so he went home,” said Thanh.
Since the day his father came home, his family wanted Thanh to stay home, but his team needed him as well, putting the player in a bind.
Thanh chose to stay to play with HAGL and return to his father as much as he could. After the 1-1 draw with Bình Dương on July 11, when his teammates went to the beach, Thanh rushed to the airport to go home. After the match with Quảng Nam, early the next morning Thanh also quickly returned to his father.
When HAGL players learned what was going on, they were touched by Thanh's love for the team and his father.
“This was a difficult time for HAGL. We don’t have good players so I decided to stay and play with my teammates. Sometimes I played but I was worried about my dad.
"No matter what I know, he will always support me because football is fun for him and he always wants to see his son play in any situation.
"My father lays there, he doesn’t listen or see anymore, but I believe he felt what I did. And I want him to be always proud of his son,” said Thanh.
“I want to tell my dad to fight with me. Maybe a miracle will happen for my dad and my whole family,” Thanh added.
Fulcrum of HAGL
In recent matches for his club, Thanh has found his peak performance after more than nine months of absence because of knee surgery.
“Fans know Thanh is an agile player with good technique. If he can fix his passes to be more accurate as well as his movements, he will be even more dangerous,” said coach Lee Tae-hoon of HAGL.
Thanh has played every match for HAGL this season in various positions, showing the importance of the versatile player.
Thanh had solid 2016 and 2017 V.League 1 seasons, scoring 14 goals in 49 matches. However, two seasons later, his development was slowed by a knee injury.
At the national team level, Thanh is a second choice for the wingback behind stalwart Nguyễn Trọng Hoàng.
Thanh's versatility and recent impressive performances make him likely to receive a call-up for head coach Park Hang-seo's national team this autumn for the World Cup qualifiers.
With Hoàng suspended for the match against Malaysia in the upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifiers, it could be Thanh's time to shine, but he knows there are more important things than football. He'll just be hoping his dad will be able to cheer him on. — VNS