Goalkeeper sets the bar high for Vietnam

By Hoang Nguyen   September 5, 2020 | 05:00 pm PT
Goalkeeper sets the bar high for Vietnam
Dang Van Lam, the main goalkeeper of Vietnam national football team. Photo courtesy of Asian Football Confederation.
Vietnam’s top goalkeeper, Dang Van Lam, speaks about reaching the top of Asia and World Cup qualification in an interview with the Asian Football Confederation.

"After years of unrelenting persistence, Dang Van Lam finally realized his dream of becoming Vietnam's number one goalkeeper and, part of a golden generation of talent, the Muangthong United custodian continues to set the bar high," the AFC said.

Born in Moscow to a Vietnamese father and a Russian mother, he joined the academies of renowned Russian clubs like Spartak Moscow and Dynamo Moscow but failed to get a professional contract at Dynamo when he turned 18.

Vietnam popped up on his mind at that time as an opportunity.

"I decided I wanted to become the Vietnamese national team goalkeeper; I have Vietnamese blood in me, so I wanted to go to Vietnam," he recalled.

However, things were not easy for the young keeper in Vietnam either. After first struggling to find a club, he signed with Hoang Anh Gia Lai, but was loaned to a club in Laos.

He found it difficult to adapt to life in Laos, especially the food and training facilities. His father advised him to return to Russia, where he was now classified as a foreign player since he had played for the Vietnam U19 team. But no Russian club wanted him.

Uncertain about his next move, he made some phone calls and social media posts that set his career on an unexpected path.

"I could have changed my nationality back to Russian, but under FIFA rules I could only do this once. So I didn’t know what to do. I phoned an old coach of mine to ask for advice, and he told me not to change because Vietnam had a shortage of goalkeepers and would maybe need me in future."

Many saw Lam’s posts on social media which expressed his desire to play for Vietnam. Hai Phong FC signed him, and, after a year, he became the club’s main keeper and was called up to the national team for the first time in 2016.

"I remember my whole family was watching and I felt so proud to be representing Vietnam. I said to myself my target was to win something with Vietnam."

Lam went on and became the main choice for the goalkeeper’s position in a youthful and talented Vietnam team, a golden generation that won the 2018 AFF Cup and entered the quarterfinals of the 2019 Asian Cup.

His career turned a new page when he signed for Thai club Muangthong United in 2019.

He is ready for the Vietnamese team to progress to the next level.

"We want to be challenging at an Asian level, not just in Southeast Asia – the target has to be to reach the level of Japan and South Korea."

Lam also dreams of World Cup qualification for the Golden Dragons.

"Of course it is every player’s dream to make it to the World Cup, so I hope we can do that with Vietnam."

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