Rejected by Brisbane Roar, Australia defender Joshua Grommen’s determination has paid off with a call-up to represent the Philippines.
By
John Davidson

30 Oct 2019 - 10:47 AM  UPDATED 30 Oct 2019 - 10:50 AM

Born and raised in the Queensland capital, Grommen spent time with the Roar’s National Youth League team and National Premier League side after coming through the Queensland Academy of Sport. 

But unable to break into Brisbane’s first-team set-up, instead the 23-year-old has embarked on a career in Asia. Grommen, who has Filipino heritage through his mother, has gained experience playing in the Philippines with several different clubs and has represented the country at both Under-22 and Under-23 levels.

This year he joined Sukhothai in the Thai League 1 and his form has been rewarded with selection in the Azkals squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against the Maldvies and Syria.

The centre back is hoping to make his senior debut for the island nation next month. 

“It’s always a great honour to play for any country in any sport, as only a few people are able to say they have achieved such a great thing in life, and I am proud to represent my mothers’ homeland,” he told The World Game.

“If the opportunity comes for me to play against any opponent I’m happy as to me I just want to be a part of something and be able to make my family proud. 

“For me, it just shows that I’m another step closer to my goals and each step I take in my career, whether it’s with a bigger league or international level, I want to grow more and more as a player and compete with the best in the world. 

Grommen has had a tough initiation to life in Thailand, battling injury and his club fighting relegation. Sukhothai  managed to dramatically avoid the drop, finishing 12th in the 16-team top flight and finish four points above the drop zone.

The defender admits the Thai League 1 was a step-up for him. 

“My first impression of it was like wow, this is another level up,” he said.

“[But] I was so happy to experience it and be a part of a league that really has quality players with a really well-organised and run league. The experiences I had within the second part of the season was great as I had to step up to another level and I’ve learnt so much.”

Grommen suffered a dislocated shoulder and then contracted a virus, limiting his game-time. But the former Western Spirit junior fought his way back to fitness and played in the final game of the season that sensationally secured Sukhothai’s Thai League 1 status for 2020.

He came off the bench in the second half as the club went on to beat Nakhon Ratchasima 4-2 and avoid the drop.

“Injuries happen, which was unfortunate as I was starting every game since coming in and performing well,” Grommen said.

“I dislocated my shoulder once again and straight after this I caught a contagious virus, which didn’t help my situation. Once the virus was clear I still had issues with my shoulder but I pushed through and continued to play and train as I had to show my commitment to the team even if I was feeling discomfort or pain.

“In the last game of the season the club was in trouble as any of the four teams that were near relegation were all close on the table, as only one or two points made the difference between who got relegated. 

“So it was a must-win for Sukhothai. The game ended with us winning 4-2 and it was a great game to be part of as lots of emotions were being shown from the players, staff and fans of both teams competing.

“It was the first time for me to experience anything like this as there was so much pressure from both teams to perform, because whoever didn’t would be relegated. But I am very proud of the boys for putting up a good fight and getting the win.” 

Grommen is to be joined in the Philippines squad by fellow Australian Iain Ramsay. The former A-League winger is a teammate of Grommen’s at Sukhothai and remains a mentor to him. 

“Iain Ramsey has always been a great player,” he said.

“When I was younger I used to watch him on TV and playing with him in a few clubs has taught me a lot and the experiences he has had.”