FFT's 20 Under-20: Thailand's versatile young War Elephant

Impressive young Thai forward Supachai Chaided felt fierce loyalty to the team that gave him his first start in football. But when the biggest club in the country comes calling, what is a young lad to do?

Barely 12 months ago, teenage star Supachai Chaided was pledging his career-long allegiance to Osotspa, his first professional club.

“I want to stay at Osotspa,” Supachai declared back then to the club’s 10-year veteran, Apipoo Sunthornpanawes.

Little did he know his life would soon take a number of twists and turns, both at club and international level

“I will finish my career here. I want to be a legend here.”

It was an understandable dream for a teenager whose football career had just begun and whose heart was entirely devoted to his first club, which changed its name to Super Power in the middle of last year.

But little did he know his life would soon take a number of twists and turns, both at club and international level.

Two years ago Suphachai left his hometown of Pattani, one of the three Deep South provinces in Thailand, to chase his football dreams.

The Super Power were the first team that gave him an opportunity, initially inviting him to join their youth team.

Supachai earned his first opportunity with Osotspa

“When I was with Patumkongka School, I trained with Osotspa only on the weekends,” Supachai explains to FourFourTwo.

“To be honest, I barely watched them play. I had been picked in a team for the Coke Cup tournament with players that were two years older than me.

“I had a trial for the under-19 national team under coach Jun (Anurak Srigerd), the team that would play in the 2015 ASEAN Championship.

“I don’t know where it came from but I decided I’d trial for a defensive midfield position. The coach wanted players who had already turned 19, so I didn’t make the first cut. But then he wanted another forward, so I got called up to fill the last spot.”

Supachai would not let the opportunity go to waste.

As the youngest player in the team, he scored twice, helping the Junior War Elephants win the tournament.  

After that success, Super Power extended Supachai’s contract for a further four years, which led him to state his intention of remaining with the club for life.

He was then named in the senior squad for 2016.

“Coach Toi (Sirisak Yodyadthai – a former junior coach at Osotspa currently coaching Thai Honda) pushed me up to play with the first team under coach Chai (Somchai Sabperm) before the 2016 season kicked off,” he explains.

Few can resist when Buriram come calling

“On my first day of training, coach Chai said to me ‘brother, work hard at training. I like to support young players’ and that cheered me up. It’s motivating when your coach says that to you.

“During the pre-season, ‘Buzz’ (Apipoo Sunthornpanawes) picked up an injury.

We were 2-1 down when I lost the ball in midfield and we conceded the third goal ... I screwed up

“Coach Chai chose me to replace him in midfield in a friendly game. Then in the Thai League opener against Bangkok Glass, he chose me (in the squad) to play at the same position.

“I didn’t think I’d get on the pitch.”

But he was mistaken, with coach Chai throwing him into the fray for the last 14 minutes of action. Unfortunately things didn’t quite go to plan.

“I was very nervous,” Supachai recalls. “We were 2-1 down when I lost the ball in midfield and we conceded the third goal. We ended up losing 3-1.

“It was my first Thai League game and I screwed up.

“I felt bad. I lost a bit of confidence. But Buzz came up to me as we were cooling down after the game and said, ‘The third goal was nobody’s fault. You did well on your first match. You’ll get better’.”

[Did he get better? Find out over the page]