Thai trio make history with Sven (November 17, 2007)

Suree, Kiatprawut and Teerasil are the first players from here to join a Premiership club
Eriksson denied that politics was at play in the signings of the trio, amid reports that club chairman Thaksin Shinawatra was seeking popularity ahead of the Dec 23 general election.

The coach insisted that the move was to help Asian football and promote the club in the region.

''I am here only for football reasons, I am not here for political reasons,'' Eriksson said. ''We came here because it is during the break for the international matches in Europe and there are no Premier League matches. ''I have time to come to Asia and sign the contract and it has nothing to do with Thai politics.''

In a video tape, Thaksin said he wanted to do good things to Thailand in this aus picious year when the country is celebrating His Majesty the King's 80th birthday.
Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson signed three Thai players yesterday but they are not likely to play in the Premier League this season.

Thailand internationals Suree Sukha, Kiatprawut Saiwaew and Teerasil Dangda were signed for three years for undisclosed transfer fees and wages at a high-profile press conference at the Conrad hotel in Bangkok. The contracts run from 2008-2010.
''I'm glad democracy is returning to Thailand and it's a pity that I could not be there,'' the former prime minister said.

''My aims are to make a good reputation for Thailand, both in managing the club and creating new talented players.''

Sven-Goran Eriksson shakes handes with Suree Sukha yesterday at the Conrad hotel as Kiatprawut Saiwaew, left, and Teerasil Dangda look on.

Eriksson told reporters that the signings were not a direct order from former prime minister Thaksin who was ousted in a coup in September last year and has since been living in exile in London.

He said the three players would have to prove themselves on the field.

''To tell the truth, these three players will not be playing in the English Premier League this year,'' Eriksson said.

''They have to prove whether they are able to play in the Premier League or not.

''They may be able to play in the Premier League next season especially the fullback Suree who has the ability to play for City but it all depends on him to show his skill to us.''
The three have not yet got work permits although concerned parties believe Suree's application could soon be approved by Britain's Home Office.

City's PR chief Paul Tyrell said Suree could be the first to get a work permit as he had played for the Thai national side for 75% of their competitive matches in the past two years.

City will set up a football academy in Bangkok to groom young Thai players and to help the Kingdom become a football powerhouse.

Suree, 25, said he would try to prove his skill to the club and hoped he could be a good example for young Thais.

''It's a great honour and I hope young Thai players will work harder if they want to play in Europe,'' he said.

Worawi Makudi, president of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), said it was an historic day for Thailand.

''Suree, Kiatprawut and Teerasil have created a new chapter in Thai football,'' Worawi said.

''We hope they are not the last ones.''

''It is not easy for Thai players to get a chance to play in one of the top leagues in the world.''