Building A Dream with the Younghusbands
On August 24, James and Phil Younghusband will find themselves on opposite sides of a football pitch, leading two teams composed of all-stars, celebrities, and international legends in a battle for supremacy. In the last Clear Dream Match, the younger Younghusband trounced his brother 5-1. James is out for revenge. We caught up with the brothers at the draft event for the match, where the brothers each got to pick five players, before drawing the rest at random. They also got to find out which teams international superstars Dennis Wise and Fabio Cannavaro would play for.
So you seem to be taking this pretty seriously.
(Laughs) Yes. When it comes to me and my brother, everything's pretty serious. Especially when we're competing against each other. At the end of the day, it's bragging rights. And it means a lot for the supporters, and me and James. The win means a lot; even though it's not a FIFA competition, it's still important to all of us.
So what was your strategy going in?
Because the second part had us drawing out of a hat, some of it was just luck. So for my first five, I picked players that I knew could adjust from defense to midfield, or midfield to striker, or defense to striker. So I picked players that could adjust, just in case I didn't pick players out of the hat in those positions. I think I actually got pretty lucky with my picks, and I picked a pretty good team.
You won pretty handily last year. Why didn't you just go for the same guys?
Because the list of players is a lot stronger this year. There are a bunch of strong players who've been added this year, like Jeffrey (Christiaens), Carlie de Murga, Jason de Jong. It's good to have those guys on your team.
How do you think the draft panned out for both of you?
I think it's quite even. James has some good players. I think both teams are really strong, and it'll be a lot closer than last year. Last year, it was a surprise that we won by so much, but this year I think it will be a lot closer.
How are you going to play Dennis Wise?
Well, Dennis Wise is a midfielder. I know he wants to win. He's aggressive, he can tackle, and he's a professional. So I know he's going to come in wanting to do his best, so it's going to be pretty easy to slot him in anywhere.
How do you deal with having celebrity players on your team?
Sam (YG) is my only celebrity player. He's going to be able to add some personality in the changing room. I look forward to seeing him train with us. He's got a great attitude and a great personality, and I think we're really lucky to have Sam on our team.
What kind of preparation are you planning in the leadup to the game?
I don't know with James' team, but we have one official training. Then we're allowed to have our own "secret" trainings. Well, actually it's no secret - I've only got one "secret" training. Hopefully that'll be enough to have the team gel together.
Is it just me, or are you taking this a little less seriously than your brother?
I'm taking it more seriously, actually. My fault last year was that I wasn't taking it seriously enough. So I think I have to take it seriously.
So you really planned for this?
I had a strategy. I've got my management team with me now. They've been helping me while I've been away in the UK. And I've got a coach working with me, Freddy Gonzales. We talked first thing when I got off the plane to discuss what kind of team we could put together.
So these are exactly the players you wanted to have on your team?
Well, they're certainly some of the top contenders. Obviously Phil picked a few players that I would have loved to have on my team. I had to adjust and pick who I felt would work well together on the field.
How much training are you planning before the big game?
This year, they've given us more opportunity to prepare for this. Being professionals, obviously, we want to do our best. We want to train like it's a full international game, and so we're going to have team bonding sessions and regular trainings. I'm going to be working with Freddy to figure out what's going to be our next step.
You drafted three out of the four non-professionals on the list…
I don't really see it like that. Every player has something to bring to the team. To be a good team, you've got to have good character as well. And that's what's so good about these players here. Toni Toni, Slick Rick… they've got a lot of character.
But how are you going to play your celebrities?
I'm leaving that to Freddy Gonzales. I just want to focus on playing. I found it really difficult last year, having to divide my attention between playing and coaching at the same time. I felt this year that I needed to leave all the coaching responsibilities to someone else.
Have you thought much about how you're going to play Cannavaro?
Since we didn't know whether we were going to get Cannavaro or Wise, we were preparing as if we had neither. So I don't really know. We were really just focused on getting a balanced mix of players. It's just fantastic to be playing with him. I'm really looking forward to him joining up with us.
What lessons did you bring from last year?
I learned a lot. I think I learned more than Phil, at least. I think you always learn more from losing and failing than winning. I learned my preparation wasn't very good. My team selection was kind of haphazard. I think the really interesting thing about this year is that we got wildcards: that we could also pick one player who wasn't on the list. And I think that makes a big difference. And I think I've got a really good wildcard.
The Clear Dream Match takes place August 24 at the Makati University Stadium. Visit Facebook.com/ClearPH for more information. For tickets, visit https://www.smtickets.com/marketing/view/1595.