Bodin Phala – The Fresh Prince of Klongtoey

 

If you’ve been following Port for long you’ll have noticed what an incredibly high turnover of players there is year on year. This isn’t unique to Port – it’s not unusual for Thai teams’ transfers to get well in to the double figures on a regular basis – but with the influx of money at Port it has been particularly pronounced. With this bi-annual merry-go-round keeping us writers busy just reporting the ins and outs there is precious little time to take a really deep dive in to any of the signings. Most signings will get a paragraph or two on Transfer Talk and a brief description on the Squad Page, but I thought it would be interesting to take a particularly close look at one of Port’s new boys, particularly as he made such a big impact in the opening day win over Pattaya.

The new boy in question is left winger Bodin Phala, who signed for Port for a reported 7 million baht from champs Buriram. At just 23, Bodin has already played for four T1 sides and broken in to the Thai national team, but our look at Bodin’s career starts all the way back in 2010 when he was in high-school.

Bodin studied at Wat Suthiwararam high school, whose alumni features a handful of Thai national team football players, but we’ve only managed to find pictures of young Bodin representing his school on the futsal court.

 

Bodin representing Wat Suthiwararam

 

Yes, that’s him having his shirt almost pulled off. After graduating Bodin apparently had his pick of Thailand’s futsal clubs, and chose to join a certain Port Futsal Club, donning the number 18 shirt and helping Port to a second place finish in 2012-13. We managed to dig up some old highlights of games he played in for Port, the best of which is probably this rather lengthy Surat Thani highlights package.

 

Bodin in 2018; Bodin in 2013

 

With the futsal world at his feet though, Bodin decided to switch disciplines, signing for Rangsit FC in the fourth tier of Thai football. Bodin’s 4 goals in 16 appearances helped Rangsit in to mid-table, but before the end of the season, parent club Bangkok Glass spotted that they had a star in the making and promoted him to the first team.

 

 

Bodin notched up 5 appearances at the tail end of the season, including a start against a Singtharua FC side, managed by Dusit, featuring the likes of Leandro, Sikimic and Chanin.

 

 

With Port hovering just above the relegation zone and Glass having nothing to play for Port snatched a dramatic win in the 93rd minute. Bodin, wearing the number 16 shirt, played on the left wing, coming close with a cross-cum-shot in the 24th minute and playing a part in Glass’ second goal.

 

 

In 2015 Bodin continued to feature regularly for Glass, although it wasn’t until July that he got his first start, an away game against Gary Stevens’ Port.

 

 

Glass once again did the business, although it was young teammate Tanasith Siripala who starred that day, with Bodin having a quiet game on the left wing. Although it ended in a 1-0 loss, the highlights to this game are a real treat, with Lee Ho skinning the entire Glass defence before shooting agonizingly wide, and the original Nurul – sensational Japanese winger Saruta – being absolutely pole-axed by a Glass midfielder who gets a straight red card for his troubles.

 

 

After starting against Port, Bodin went on to be an ever-present for Glass in the remainder of 2015, scoring 3 goals as Glass went on to achieve an impressive 6th place finish. With Port suffering relegation Bodin wouldn’t face Port in 2016, so I’ve picked Glass’ 2016 encounter with Chainat to look at next, which is notable as Bodin started in central midfield, with Glass employing a back 3.

 

 

Bodin clearly reveled in his new position, forcing a superb save from Cheating Chainat’s ‘keeper in the first half and then finding the back of the net in the second with a calm, side-footed finish.

 

 

Perhaps using Bodin in a similar role at the expense of Siwakorn is something Jadet should think about this season, as it could accommodate Pakorn, Nurul and Bodin in the same team. We’d probably only like to see that trialed against some of the weaker teams in the league, or as a solution when Siwakorn inevitably picks up his fourth, eighth and twelfth yellow cards this season!

 

 

After 3 more goals and an assist in Bodin’s first 8 games in 2016, big-spending Chiang Rai came calling, adding Bodin to their promising crop of pricey youngsters. Despite starting regularly, Bodin struggled a little for goals, netting just 2 more times before the end of the season, including this deflected effort against Buriram.

 

 

Ultimately Bodin didn’t quite kick on as he could have done up North, and with Chiang Rai willing to sell at the end of 2016, underperforming Buriram brought Bodin to Isaan.

 

 

Buriram decided to use him on the right flank in 2017 – a natural enough decision for a right-footer – but Bodin struggled for form and failed to record a goal until just before mid-season. When the goal did come, in a 2-0 win against Navy, it was an absolute peach!

 

 

But Bodin was clearly not on his best form, and he spent most of the second half of 2017 on the Buriram bench as they went on to clinch the T1 title. He did manage to make inroads in the Thai national team squad though, managing 3 friendly appearances and a substitute appearance in the 2018 World Cup Qualifier against UAE. On the club front things weren’t really working out though, and Buriram accepted Port’s 7 million baht offer for the winger in early 2018.

In pre-season Bodin got plenty of playing time, but was in and out of the first XI, with Nurul and Pakorn being preferred on the flanks. Nevertheless, a determined Bodin seized his chance with both hands when it came on the opening day of the season, replacing Pakorn and immediately smashing the upright, before opening his account with what must be the goal of his career to date. The words “He’s going to try and Ronaldo it, don’t try and Ronaldo it” were muttered (by some terribly cynical non-believer in Zone B) seconds before Bodin well and truly Ronaldoed his freekick in to the top left corner, capping off an excellent cameo with an early contender for Goal of the Season.

 

 

So, there’s my look at The Fresh Prince Bodin Phala, if you want any other players profiled in this way, feel free to leave your suggestions in the comment section.

 

Tom Earls

Tom Earls

Having moved to Thailand aged 10, Tom has been playing or watching football in Thailand for more than 18 years. A keen follower of the Thai National Team and an avid fan of Port FC, he is a regular contributor to The Sandpit.

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