Cambodian-American Footballer’s Pride Playing for the Nation

Ahead of boarding the plane after a two-week stint in Cambodia, Cambodian-American footballer Nick Taylor speaks to Kiripost about his pride playing for the national team and his hopes of returning
Nick Taylor speaks during an interview on September 29, 2022. Kiripost/Siv Channa
Nick Taylor speaks during an interview on September 29, 2022. Kiripost/Siv Channa

Cambodian-American football player Nick Taylor said his experience in tactics, style and ideas playing in the United States will add to the national team’s skills and help Cambodia win more games in the future.

Taylor, who plays as a forward for Orlando City B in MLS Next Pro, a men's professional soccer league in the United States and Canada, was called on to play his first senior international cap for Cambodia last month in a friendly match against Bangladesh in Phnom Penh.

Taylor returned to the United States on Thursday last week after two weeks in Cambodia for the match that saw Bangladesh win 1-0 on September 22.

Nick Taylor poses for a picture with supporters at Phnom Penh International Airport. Kiripost/Siv Channa
Nick Taylor poses for a picture with supporters at Phnom Penh International Airport. Kiripost/Siv Channa

“The vision honestly for me is to come and help out as much as I can. I know I am one of the few players on the team that play in a different league other than Cambodia so bring a little bit of a different style of play, a little bit different tactics, and I guess, ideas. I hope I can help the team, use that to add to the team, hopefully to win more games,” Taylor told Kiripost before he boarded the plane.

Taylor also urged other overseas Cambodians who play sports to help out national teams, saying representing the country brings with it a lot of pride.

“I think if you have some sort of ties to Cambodia, especially playing football or honestly any sports, and you live abroad, you can come and represent the country. I think you should, it's a great country, amazing people and there is a lot of pride in being able to represent such a beautiful country,” he said.

“Any American, any foreign players, that are also Khmer and play sports, I honestly recommend them to come, if they can, to try to represent the country on a national level.”

Nick Taylor leaves Cambodia on September 29, 2022. Kiripost/Siv Channa
Nick Taylor leaves Cambodia on September 29, 2022. Kiripost/Siv Channa

Playing as a forward and leftfoot winger, Taylor said the game has been a great experience. He loved and thanked the team for the transition for someone like him who does not speak the language. Taylor also thanked the fans, who he said were awesome and welcoming.

He added that the team needs more confidence going forward. He noted the team was good at keeping the ball and dominating the game against Bangladesh, but needed to create more chances and turn them into goals.

“The team had good efforts, performed really well and they just got unlucky. Bangladesh had one solid chance and they scored one,” he said. “We had a few chances and we were unlucky and unable to score, hopefully next time, we will get the win.”

Taylor said he is hoping to come back and play for the national team again, however, that is up to the football federation.

“[I’m] very proud, this has been something that I wanted to do for a very long time and to be able to do it now is amazing. I can’t be more proud of the efforts that played in to be able to make me come in,” he said.

Taylor said it came as a shock to find out he was being called to play for the national team as it came out of the blue. Someone on the news reported that he was Khmer-American and one of the managers on the national team reached out to him.

“We just got into conversations. We had a Zoom call with my family and from there, we just worked on getting me over. For me, it was a very hard process, I had to get my Cambodian passport and ID,” he said.

“It’s been a long process for the short three months that we had, but whatever happened I am glad to be here.”

Taylor’s mum was born in Cambodia and fled the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. His mum returned to the country for the first time since she left Cambodia to watch her son play in the match.

He added that he grew up eating Khmer food and the Cambodian climate is similar to Florida, where he is currently living.

Y Gosaly, 31, was at the airport with his family as Taylor boarded the plane and was keen to snap some selfies with the player. Gosaly also watched Taylor play against Bangladesh.

Y Gosaly (right) poses for a picture with Nick Taylor at Phnom Penh International Airport. Kiripost/Siv Channa
Y Gosaly (right) poses for a picture with Nick Taylor at Phnom Penh International Airport. Kiripost/Siv Channa

“He is a good player. His speed is fast, but I am sorry that they put him on at the end of the hour to play,” Gosaly said. “He had many chances, a few chances, sorry that he didn’t score, and if he did, it would be good.”

Vath Chamroeun, Secretary of General of National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC), said on Monday that all capable Cambodians in sports are welcome to join and represent Cambodian teams.

“This is a policy of sports that doesn’t discriminate against one's own race,” he said. “We congratulate and take all Cambodian blood like any other countries.”