Originally published by Tiebreaker Times
When the time comes that Stephan Schrock hangs his boots, Philippine football will definitely be a poorer place without him.
Ever since the 34-year-old burst into the local scene back in 2011, Pinoy sports fans came to quickly appreciate his talent, leadership, and, especially that swag, which is prevalent with some of the country’s elite athletes.
In an interview with teammate Bienvenido Maranon in the Tiebreaker Vods’ Crossover Podcast, presented by SMART and hosted by Cedelf Tupas and Paolo del Rosario, Schrock discusses the mentality that led him to have a successful career in the sport.
“I am blessed. I love what I do, I really love it. I really enjoy being the alpha male in (United City). I put a lot of pressure on the young kids but I take it also from them, because I always tell them whatever happens on the pitch — and I told you to do so — it will be my mistake afterward,” said the 5-foot-7 midfielder.
“I will take responsibility for the good and also for the bad, and mostly for the bad things that happen on the pitch or outside of the pitch. Because if I don’t put my team in order, then who will?”
Schrock is one of the most experienced players in the Philippines — a veteran of international competitions across two continents spanning 16 years. And he knows that at this stage of his career, he needs to be more of a teacher for young ballers, like current teammates Pocholo Bugas, Anthony Pinthus, and Jordan Jarvis.
“We have a very balanced approach in terms of teaching the kids. We have Bienve — he is more the encourager, he’s more of the ‘yaya’-type. He looks after the kids, which I did not like. So the balance in the team is very good and the approach to the young kids is very good,” he explained.
“Also themselves, they ask a lot. They are willing to learn, they show up in shape, and that’s a good sign for them to step up their game and their level. And if you have Manu (Ott), me and OJ (Porteria), Bienve, there is only one way to go and this is all the way up.”
As the captain of Ceres-Negros/United City, Schrock has led the club to horizons previously impossible for a professional football club in the Philippines. He has waged wars with foreign teams in AFC competitions, and he always makes it a point to lead at the front.
“We feel like when (Schrock) goes to the training, he goes out to the game, he’s always the best. We just have to follow him — he’s our captain, our best player so we have to follow him. Everything he says or everything he does, we have to go behind him,” explained Maranon.
“For me, he is an example. After everything he teaches in football that is still running a lot, still the first guy to press, still the guy who encourages the people every game even in training… For me I am lucky to be beside him, I’m lucky to play with him. As I told you before, if he says something, we have to just follow him. That’s true that sometimes we can put pressure on somebody, but for our team, I think there is no pressure. Everything he says, we have to follow.”
Without a doubt, Schrock has a resume that makes him one of the greatest players in the history of Philippine football. He has four Philippines Football League crowns and one ASEAN Zonal Championship in the 2017 AFC Cup. And he will forever be remembered as the man who led the country in its continental debut versus South Korea in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
He recently led the team to the 2020 PFL championship in its condensed bubble format. While his personal winning tradition extended, do not expect him, of all people, to rest on his laurels. He showed as much while leading United City in its rampage against Maharlika Manila this past season.
“We’re here to win every possible trophy and every possible award, and we’re very proud of what we achieved, especially coming off this break. A few months where we were unemployed, where we have nothing to look forward to,” said the former Greuther Fürth player.
“You have to understand, most of the players are not well off for the next 10 years probably, and there is a lot of uncertainty ongoing. And coming out this strongly shows what character and what persons we are made of and… Because this is an unbelievable season we just played, and with all the circumstances makes it even better than what we achieved years prior to this.”
United City’s victory has earned it the right to play in the 2021 AFC Champions League. However, there is no final word regarding the tournament format amidst the COVID-19 pandemic… or if the talismanic skipper will lead the team out.
“I think, especially now after COVID, everything is weird. Everyone has to go home to think about the future, especially Stephan. He already did everything in football, even more in the Philippines, and he’s free to choose where he wants to go. For me, hopefully, he continues here. I can continue with him because it is amazing to play beside him every single game,” said Maranon.
“But of course, if he decides to leave, we have to say good luck because he deserves it. And he’s free to choose where he wanna go because everything he did for Philippine football is amazing, and everybody has to appreciate it. He’s doing a very great job not only inside the pitch, but also out. And I think everybody has to be happy for what Stephan is doing for everybody — not just for himself. Because without Stephan, I don’t think this league was playing.”
As for the man himself, he remains confident that wherever he goes, success and glory will always be there right by his side. It isn’t arrogance, though — just honesty.
“Speaking of uncertainty, after this point I don’t know if I will stay… I’m always thinking of doing something that’s never been done before. And if it will be with United City, I’m happy and embrace it. But if it is somewhere else, I’m just gonna write history somewhere else.”