For many Filipino football fans, the news of star winger Chieffy Caligdong leaving Philippine Air Force FC to migrate abroad came as a shock. But for one Filipino football legend, it came with a sense of deja vu.
Like Caligdong, Elmer Lacknet Bedia grew up in football hotbed Barotac Nuevo in Iloilo City, before joining Air Force FC. The star of the national team in the early ’80s, Bedia was named the Philippines’ “Mr. Football” in 1986.
“It’s very sad to hear that Chieffy is leaving our beloved Air Force FC but on the other hand, it’s a very good decision. When it comes to family matters, it’s the same situation in my case back in the ’80s,” wrote Bedia in a comment in reaction to news of Caligdong’s planned migration to the United States.
Bedia left Air Force to join Australia’s Olympic United FC. In 1986, he was named one of the top 10 best football players Down Under.
He would occasionally return to suit up for Air Force and the Philippine team, and was part of the squad that won a historic upset over Malaysia in the 1991 Southeast Asian Games in Manila. His assist set up Norman Fegidero’s goal that gave the home side a 1-0 victory.
“I don’t regret what I did, as what I see in Philippine football, the players don’t benefit from those big bucks that have been given to the club that should be spent on the players to make the competition really good,” continued Bedia, who still remains involved in grassroots Philippine football as a consultant to Team Philippines competing in the Homeless World Cup, helping former national teammate Rudy del Rosario.
“Hopefully, the PFF should wake up and look after those players who make football as what [it is] today. It should start paying players what they deserve.”
Bedia ended with a message of support for Caligdong.
“For Chieffy, good luck and God bless… from Mr. Football.”
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