It appears that UAAP Season 81 Men's Football Rookie of the Year Shanden Vergara won't be coming back to De La Salle University next year.
The 19-year old Vergara, who was an integral part in the Green Archers' Finals run in the recently concluded UAAP Men's Football tournament, has reportedly earned a scholarship in the United States, specifically in Snow College.
"The offer was made through the Football for Humanity President, Chris Thomas and his international partnerships with top calibre recruitment organisation called SRUSA based in the UK, not far from Manchester, England," explained Vergara through Lorenzo Del Carmen of Tiebreaker Times. "My family has known Chris since 2015, and my father is also very good friends with him. Both my father and I have also done volunteer work with Football for Humanity."
Established back in 1888, Snow College is located in Ephraim, Utah and is home to eight varsity programs, including a men's soccer program that competes in the NCAA Division I tournament.
"Luckily enough, without try-outs, I sent my highlights video to Chris Thomas and he forwarded it to his contacts in the UK. The response was very positive and I was told that I could compare to European players. SRUSA exclusively selects 50 players around the world and I was invited to the network," Vergara explained.
The San Carlos City-native was one of Season 81's most highly-touted rookies, coming from an impressive run in the UAAP Juniors Football tournament as part of the De La Salle-Zobel squad.
In his first year in the seniors, Vergara was once again impressive as he helped DLSU to a playoff berth and scored the go-ahead goal to send the Green Archers back into the Finals.
Vergara added that out of the multiple scholarship offers he received, he ultimately chose to commit to Snow College.
After 30 scholarship plus offers from top universities around the USA, I strategically selected the offer from Snow College. Firstly it offers quality education, secondly, it's in beautiful Utah, quiet and peaceful under a top calibre football coach who is a Portuguese native but grew up playing competitive English football at Tottenham Hotspurs Football Academy and Leyton FC," said Vergara.
"Later, I found out that I will be playing alongside high-level players from Japan and also Benfica FC Academy in Portugal. The variables aligned and this was my choice," he continued.
The dream, Vergara said, was to be able to play in the MLS in the future.
While this is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the young Vergara, it is undeniably a blow to the DLSU football program, who were pegged as one of the top contenders in Season 82, especially after the impressive season turned in by the team's rookies, led by Vergara.
Still, the Taft-based squad will have the likes of Mo Almohjili, Jovan Marfiga, and John Rey Lagura in their squad next season.
Vergara however, was nothing but grateful to the La Sallian community for his time with in Green and White.
"I would like to add that I am very grateful to Coach Hans and to La Salle, both to Zobel and to the University, for making me the person I am today - ready to take on the world."
"La Salle offered the best Philippine training, the best Philippine education that allowed me to seek greater achievements for myself. I will always be a La Sallian, always be a Filipino. Animo La Salle!!" he added.
H/T: Lorenzo Del Carmen, Tiebreaker Times.