After 14 years representing Thailand, goalkeeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool couldn’t have a better way to say farewell to the national team than playing his part in a winning side.
The 37-year-old saw just 14 minutes’ action in his 79th and final national game, the 1-0 friendly victory over Trinidad and Tobago in Suphanburi on Sunday.
It was still enough for him to make a terrific save, from Trinidad midfielder Nathan Lewis, before he was replaced by Chatchai Butprom.
“It’s one of the biggest days in my life. Such a perfect day to end my time with the national team,” said the Suphanburi keeper, whose career highlights include two SEA Games gold medals in 2003 and 2005, plus a Thai League title with Chonburi FC in 2007.
“The minute I walked off the pitch after being substituted, I was overwhelmed. I felt like I had woken from a nice dream after 14 years. Now it’s time to move forward and live in reality.”
The long-time national goalkeeper also reminded his young teammates to retain their pride in the national jersey and keep working hard to help the team achieve their goals.
“Once you are tired and confront the obstacles, no matter how big they are, remember the national flag on your chest makes you special from ordinary players. Be proud and keep going,” he said.
Sinthaweechai will now focus on his career with Suphanburi, who finished 10th in the 2018 Thai League.
He also would love the chance to return to help the national team in another capacity in the future.
Sunday’s game also featured Chanathip Songkrasin, Teerathon Bunmathan and Teerasil Dangda, the three key men who took a break from J-LEague to play in Sinthaweechai’s farewell appearance.
Teerathon, who has who already returned to his club Vessel Kobe, said: “It took my breath away [Sinthaweechai’s decision to quit the national team] but we have to respect his decision. I will cherish the good experiences we have had together.”
National coach Milovan Rajevac said: “Thanks to Sinthaweechai for sharing wonderful experiences with us. He will always be remembered.”
For Thailand, meanwhile, Sunday’s victory was their second in a row, following last Thursday’s 1-0 win away to Hong Kong.
The team’s next action will be in the AFF Suzuki Cup from November 8 - December 15.