The Việt Nam U22 team have been training at the Việt Nam Youth Football Training Centre in Hà Nội since the beginning of this month to prepare for the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2021 to be held in Việt Nam.
Among the squad, striker Võ Nguyên Hoàng is expected to be a key part of the bid to retain the title at home next year.
Striker Võ Nguyên Hoàng (right) is expected to shine in the U22 Việt Nam. Photo zing.vn
Shining at age of 15
After the graduation of Hà Đức Chinh, Bùi Tiến Dụng and Trương Văn Thái Quý, Hoàng, who was born in 2002, became the most promising young talent of the Promotion Fund for Vietnamese Football Talent (PVF) Football Training Centre.
In 2017, at the inauguration of the training complex, the PVF Centre invited U15 Stoke City from the UK to compete with U15 PVF. There were also former Manchester United players attending the event including Ryan Giggs, VPF technical director, and Paul Scholes.
In the end, U15 PVF defeated U15 Stoke City 4-2 on penalties.
After the game, coach James Ball of Stoke City said he was very surprised with the performance of the players of PVF, especially striker Hoàng.
Ball said he was really impressed with Hoàng for his skill, control of the ball, speed and technique. Ball said he thought that in the near future, Hoàng would be an important factor for the Vietnamese national team.
Hoàng is considered as the PVF’s greatest talent, comparable to top players from the Hoàng Anh Gia Lai youth set-up like Nguyễn Công Phượng, Lương Xuân Trường and Nguyễn Tuấn Anh.
In August 2016, at the age of 14, Hoàng overcame nearly 30 other talented competitors across the country to win the only ticket to Senegal to attend the world final round of the programme ‘Field of Dreams 2016’ organised by the Aspire Institute of Qatar.
In addition, playing for the PVF youth teams, Hoàng won many top scorer titles in national tournaments.
The player from Đồng Tháp Province has always been physically gifted and was 1.79m tall at the tender age of 15, giving him an advantage in the air. Hoàng was also named the best player in the National U17 Football Tournament in 2018 and 2019.
In addition, Hoàng was a familiar name for Vietnamese youth teams and in 2017, he played a key role to help U15 Việt Nam beat Thailand to win the ASEAN U15 event.
Mistake at age 16
However, Hoàng’s career hasn’t been all roses and trophies.
In September 2018, a few Vietnamese U16 players were removed from the AFC U16 Championship finals squad for smoking and showing a poor attitude towards the coaching staff.
Hoàng was among those left at home.
Being famous early caused Hoàng to be arrogant. He didn’t listen to the instructions of the coaching staff and even worse, was caught smoking. Coach Vũ Hồng Việt decided to remove Hoàng from the U16 squad before the team left for the tournament, although Việt knew how talented Hoàng was.
After the regrettable incident, Hoàng’s career suddenly hit a dead end.
Hoàng said he had considered learning how to drive so he could work for a relative who sold building materials. But former national team player Nguyễn Việt Thắng, who was also Hoàng’s coach, and expert Philippe Troussier at the PVF thought that coaches had the responsibility for steering young players in the right direction.
They spoke to the leaders of the PVF and persuaded them to give Hoàng one more chance.
Fortunately, Hoàng was still young, but the shock of being kicked out of the national U16 team was enough for him to change his ways. He trained hard and overcame the temptations of youth.
Striker Võ Nguyên Hoàng (left) in the jersey of Sài Gòn FC. Photo zing.vn
After steady steps in the national youth teams, Hoàng became the key player to lead PVF to win the National U19 Football Tournament 2020.
His confidence, smart way of playing and skills have helped Hoàng play extremely well for PVF U19.
“I’ve been following Hoàng for a long time. For me, he is the best footballer of his age group. His talent and level have been confirmed before he was called up to the U22 team to prepare for the SEA Games as well as the U19 tournaments in the country. Hoàng is a striker with good health and desire. I consider him a symbol of aspirations, goals towards the success in the future of Vietnamese football,” said French expert Troussier.
Before entering the second leg of V.League 1 2020, Sài Gòn FC took Hoàng on loan from the PVF. This was a very difficult challenge for the 18-year-old but the striker quickly proved his talent when his opportunity came.
He got his first V.League 1 goal in the match between Sài Gòn FC against Becamex Bình Dương last month.
Coach and president Vũ Tiến Thành of Sài Gòn FC put his faith in Hoàng and used him in four matches this season in their run to a third-place finish in the top-flight.
“Hoàng is only 18 years old and has been played in the national premier league but his skills are quite good and met the demand of the training staff. He has a steady mentality when he played in stressful matches. I think he will be one of the best strikers of Vietnamese teams in the near future,” said Thành.
Hoàng may be young, but he could very well be the present and future of Vietnamese football.