Saturday, February 26, 2011

Know Your Azkals: The Double Life of Aly Borromeo

Aly Borromeo is a man you wouldn’t want to mess with on the field. The moment he gets the ball, you have more or less zero chance of stealing it. It may not also be a great feeling being tackled by a 6’1" 190-pound bruiser. 

Off the pitch, he’s an entirely different person – a shy, mellow, chocolate-loving Aly. He even has a hard time saying no to people, for goodness’ sake. 

I know it’s difficult to imagine, especially if you’ve seen him with his game face on. 

Don’t piss Aly off

His teammates agree that Aly is one of the most aggressive players among the Azkals. Simon Greatwich even says that he’s already gotten quite a few bruises from Aly. 

“I always want the ball and take command. I get pissed if you don’t give it to me. I mean, I know my skills, and I’m asking for it because I know I can do something for the team. And I also don’t like seeing the opponent with the ball," he says. 

It was worse when he was younger, what with his raging hormones. 

“There was a rumble between Kaya and Air Force about ten years ago. I was still a kid back then and I got a few blows in. That was really funny," the 27-year-old laughs at the memory. 

He’s more composed and calculated now. Aside from the red card he got in Maldives two years ago, Aly hasn’t been involved in any major scuffle. Usually, he’s even the mediator trying to calm things down. 

“O, ikaw na captain"

Aly has suited up for the U-19 team, La Salle Greenhills, De La Salle University, Skyline College, Kaya FC and Global Smartmatic. He has played in all positions and was actually a goalkeeper until second year high school. Nothing’s prepared him though for his accidental “bump" to captaincy in 2004. 

“It’s kind of a funny story. The captain back then, Bagets Piñero, and I both went up for a corner kick to head the ball out. I accidentally broke his nose. I broke my own teammate’s nose," he retells in disbelief.

“So he gave me the armband right there and said, ‘O, ikaw na captain.’" 

Aly says he’s not a strict captain as long as you give your 110 percent. Errors are acceptable only for a first time. 

“On the second time, I’m probably gonna shout at them. They’re gonna get scolded. I get pissed off with slight errors where they do things without thinking, and when they try to force things," he adds. 

From cubbyholes to celebrity status

When I asked Aly about his worst experience with the Azkals, he honestly replied, “Where do I start?" They were named Azkals because they never had any support in the first place. Strays, literally.

“In previous tournaments, we would sleep in facilities that had no cushions and smelled like piss. One time, in Iloilo, we stayed in the middle of nowhere. It was really bad," he says.

Their fortune changed when they beat highly-favored Vietnam in the Suzuki Cup last year. The fame, the fans and the funds started pouring in.

“I’ve cried several times in games but this is different. On the 80th minute, the scoreboard said 2-0. I looked at Anton and we were both like, ‘Are you serious?’ After the game, I just hugged them all," he shares.

With their newfound success, the Azkals have been busy holding mall tours and endorsing different brands. The fan frenzy peaked in Bacolod.

“When we were in Bacolod, we had to use the backdoor to get out of the hotel. I literally had to sprint to get to the bus. We don’t even have time to be ourselves anymore. The fanaticism is crazy but it’s good for the sport. We’ve been waiting so long for this," Aly says.

A mellow Aly?

Aly says he’s very approachable and not aggressive at all when he’s not playing – the exact opposite of the number 11 we see on the field.

“I can’t even get mad at the help. And I have trouble saying no to people. That’s how bad it gets," he sighs (I’m surprised girls don’t take advantage of this “yes-man" attitude).

If he’s not busy playing football, this Filipino-American-Spanish is busy with his Play Station 3 or with the family business. Aside from those, chocolates and the gym are on top of his priority list.

“Honestly, if I have nothing to do, I’ll just be in the gym," he admits.

How else do you think he maintains that six-pack? So, frankly, we don’t mind if you spend hours in the gym, Aly. -- KY/OMG, GMA News

credits from

I totally agree! Aly has the best six packs amongst the Azkals! I really can't forget that time when I was watching their practice game when I had the chance to see those 6 pack abs! I almost died!

What? Aly loves chocolates? With those abs? Hmm... that's nice info.


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