French born Tristan Do revels in SEA Games debut for Thailand
Thailand's emerging right-back Tristan Do says that he is determined to establish himself at international level after making his Southeast Asian (SEA) Games debut in the 6-0 thrashing of Laos.
The defending champions were in fine form as they put six past a hapless Laos with no reply at Singapore's Bishan Stadium on Friday night. Four goals from Muangthong United forward Chananan Pombubpha, and a goal each from Narubadin Weerawatnodom and Nurul Sriyankem, ensured they kept pace with fellow contenders Vietnam in Group B.
Tristan came on for Narubadin in the 62nd minute. Twelve minutes later, the 22-year-old played in a delightful chip to set up Chananan's fourth -- and Thailand's sixth -- goal of the game.
Speaking to ESPN FC, the Paris-born defender was all smiles, but refused to get carried away with the result.
"I was happy with my performance in the game," said Tristan. "But when any team in the world win 6-0, it is not about one player but the whole squad together. This is just the first game of tournament and we must think forward to start preparing for Vietnam, Malaysia and the rest of our matches."
Having grown up in France, Tristan was a product of the French youth system at RC Strasbourg, before plying his trade with Lorient, SAS Epinal and Grazelec Ajaccio.
In 2014, a surprise call came from Thailand which gave him the opportunity of returning to play professionally in his father's homeland.
Thai Premier League giants BEC Tero Sasana signed the youngster last year. Together with upcoming striker Jaturong Pimkoon, the duo played a significant role for BEC. Both were rewarded with three-year contract extensions that take them through until 2018.
"I am happy to be part of the Tero football family and am enjoying my football. To be called up for the national team, you must play well for your club in every match. So I think I did the job quite well with club and that is why I am now given the chance to join the Thai national team."
Having only been selected by the War Elephants in recent months, the tenacious defender seems to have found his place alongside a glorious list of stars, like his club mates Chanathip Songkrasin and Peerapat Notechaiya.
He credits the smooth transition to the coaches as well as his national teammates, who made him felt welcome from the first minute.
Tristan explained: "I have never thought of playing for any other country except Thailand. My grandfather was in Thailand and my father is Thai. I'm half-Thai and half-French but it was always the only choice I wanted, to play for the Thai national team.
"Football is a universal language, I can speak a little Thai and I listen to the language so there has not been any problem getting used to it. The coaching staff and my teammates have also been very helpful, and I feel good to be part of the family."
While it may appear that there will be an ongoing battle for the Thailand right-back spot between Narubadin and himself, Tristan says he knows his place in the squad. He feels that it is all about doing what is best for the team.
"Thailand national team has some leaders who are young but already played a lot with the team," he said. "Players like Chanathip and Sarach [Yooyen] are very, very good but it is not only them.
"There are many other players who have been playing together for a long time whether it's for country of in the different Thai league clubs so we all understand each other quite well. It is always important for competition in a squad but we are always doing our best for Thailand together."
Coming to Singapore has not just been about football for Tristan. He has met some of his relatives who moved to the Lion City two years ago. He is grateful to know that he has an ardent young fan who will be rooting for him during the SEA Games.
"I met them at the hotel the other day," said a visibly excited Tristan. "Although I've met them in Thailand before, two years ago, my cousin and her husband moved to Singapore to work.
"Meeting them here was really nice. I even got to see my small nephew [Didi] and that made me very happy because I don't get to see him often."
But if there is one thing that is clearly on the fullback's mind, it is his desire to prove himself on the international stage and fulfill his family's wish to see him crowned a champion with Thailand.
He proudly declared: "I am 100% with the Thai national team. I dream of winning tournaments. It is a bit thing to represent and play for your country and I hope I get to do it for many years to come."