LONDON – English-born Filipino teenager Curt Dizon has decided to take a year off from school to concentrate on pursuing a professional football career which he hopes could lead to a tryout with the Azkals.
Dizon, 18, polished his skills with the Brunswick under-14 team based in Fulham under coach Scott Berry and the Crystal Palace under-16 squad then moved to Queens Sports Academy as a football scholar under coach David Reddington. This past season, he compiled four goals and six assists with the Chesham Reserves in the South Conference Division I league under Spanish coach Steve Benitez.
Last March, Dizon was among 5,000 entries in the search for three UK finalists to be sent to the Nike Chance football camp for 16-18-year-olds in Barcelona. The 5-10 Dizon survived the first cut to 50 and the second to 28 before winding up fourth, missing the bus by a hair. Dizon said he’ll learn from the experience of playing under the watch of coaches from top clubs like Chelsea and Nottingham Forest. A 30-minute documentary of the Nike camp is accessible on YouTube and Dizon, wearing No. 75, is shown booting in a left-footed shot over the keeper’s arms into the upper left corner of the net. Dizon is featured at least thrice in the video aired on UK TV.
“I was so blessed to be named to the final 28,” said Dizon who traces his roots to Angeles City, Pampanga and Gapan, Nueva Ecija. “We trained at the Manchester United grounds and even Rio Ferdinand came out to inspire us. Jimmy Gilligan organized the Nike camp as football coach. I tried my best and I felt I could’ve made it to Barcelona.” Surprisingly, one of the three who made it was Dizon’s second-string alternate at Queens Sports Academy.
“I think my boy should’ve been picked but that’s my biased opinion,” said Dizon’s father Cris, a Victoria station train controller who followed his parents to London when he was 10. “I don’t want to think it had something to do with the color of Curt’s skin but that’s how it is sometimes. When Curt was at Queens, I felt he wasn’t ready for the pros. But now, I know he’s good to go. He’s got some offers to play for the English second-level Championship, a step down from the Premier League. The doors are opening and I support Curt’s decision to focus on football for a year just to see how far he can go. Right now, there appears to be interest from Peterborough and Watford.”
Dizon is also being invited by Benitez, who is married to a Filipina, to test the football waters in Spain. “Playing for the Azkals would be awesome,” said Dizon. “My parents used to visit the Philippines a lot and I’d come along. It would be an honor to play for the Philippines. I realize the international game is quite physical. I’m more technical than physical, quick on my feet with dribbling ability. When it’s necessary, I can be physical, too. I play left or right wing or attacking midfielder. I check out UFL videos in the internet and I’m a big fan of the Younghusbands who’ve done a lot to boost the popularity of football in the Philippines. If given the chance, I’d like to be able to contribute to what the Younghusbands are doing. Obviously, my first priority is to be able to play the English Premier League. Being a professional football player was always my dream. When I was a kid, my father gave me a basketball but instead of dribbling it with my hands, I dribbled it with my feet.”
Dizon said he’s following in the Younghusbands’ footsteps in that he matured from the ranks, playing for the Crystal Palace youth system like they did with Chelsea then moving on to play in the sixth and seventh tier semi-pro leagues. “I practice every day to improve my game,” said Dizon. “At Queens Sports Academy, I attended classes in sports science and English aside from playing football. Now that I’m done with school, I want to try out football full-time and if it doesn’t work out after a year, I’ll enroll in a university.”
Dizon’s father said he taught his son the rudiments until he was 12. “I introduced Curt to the basics then when he became proficient, I though it was time to send him off to a professional school,” he said. “Now, he’s ready for the pros.”
Dizon said he dreams of playing like his football heroes Lionel Messi of Barcelona, Mesut Ozil of Real Madrid and Ryan Giggs of Manchester United. Messi is Argentinian, Ozil is German and Giggs is Welsh.
The only boy of four, Dizon has his parents’ go-signal to give football a try. His mother Joy, 43, is a self-confessed football addict who works part-time at an osteopath and physio clinic on King’s Cross and Old Street. Father Cris, 46, was brought to live in London as a boy and went to Hammersmith and West London College. Their other children are Chezka, 24, Joycel, 11 and Celyn, 24.
Dizon may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or Tel. No. 0044-0782-577-2403. The family lives in Kilburn, northwest of London.