Etheridge after Cardiff City's promotion in 2018
|Full name||Neil Leonard Dula Etheridge|
|Date of birth||7 February 1990|
|Place of birth||Enfield, London, England|
|Height||1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)|
|2008–2009||→ Leatherhead (loan)|
|2011||→ Charlton Athletic (loan)||0||(0)|
|2012||→ Bristol Rovers (loan)||12||(0)|
|2013–2014||→ Crewe Alexandra (loan)||4||(0)|
|2014||→ Charlton Athletic (loan)||2||(0)|
| * Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league onlyand correct as of 16:55, 15 December 2018 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 16:53, 8 December 2018 (UTC)
Neil Leonard Dula Etheridge (born 7 February 1990) is a professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Premier League club Cardiff City and the Philippines national team. He joined the Fulham Academy after three years as a trainee at Chelsea and made his debut for Fulham in UEFA Europa League against Danish club Odense Boldklub, though he never played in a league match with the club. While with Fulham from 2006 until 2014 he was loaned to various lower tier clubs; Leatherhead, Charlton Athletic, Bristol Rovers, and Crewe Alexandra.
After leaving Fulham, Etheridge signed with Oldham Athletic before he was loaned to Charlton Athletic. He joined Charlton on a permanent basis in 2015 after his contract with Oldham ended. After months of being without a club, Etheridge joined Walsall making more than 90 appearances in all competitions in two seasons before moving to Championship club Cardiff City in 2017.
After establishing himself as first choice goalkeeper, he helped the Welsh side win promotion to the Premier League and became the first Filipino player to play in the Premier League in August 2018. A former England Schoolboys international, he now represents the Philippines at senior international level.
Etheridge was born in Enfield, London to Englishman Martin Etheridge and Filipina Merlinda Dula, a native of Tarlac.He took up football at the age of nine, initially playing as a left midfielder or striker before switching to playing as a goalkeeper in 2000 after volunteering to switch due to an injury to his youth side's regular goalkeeper. He attended Court Moor School in Fleet, Hampshire, where he also represented Hampshire Schools and the Aldershot & Farnborough district teams.
Having played for local youth sides Cuffy Chiefs and Hart Boys,Etheridge began attending the Chelsea Academy in 2003 at under-14 level, where he was also teammates with eventual Philippine internationals James and Phil Younghusband. He started out as a forward but eventually switched to playing as a goalkeeper at the suggestion of his coach.
In 2006, he moved to local rivals Fulham, and signed professional terms for the club.Etheridge signed for Isthmian League Division One South club Leatherhead in September 2008 on loan for the entire 2008–09 season and made his debut on 20 September in the 2–1 home defeat to Metropolitan Police. During his loan spell, he received the first red card of his career, being sent off for dissent during a 2–1 defeat to Sittingbourne in a preliminary round of the FA Cup.
In September 2009, Etheridge underwent surgery on both knees after suffering from tendinitis. He was expected to be out for the entire 2009–10 season but returned in January 2010, eventually making nine appearances for the reserves. By the end of the season he signed a new one-year deal, keeping him at Fulham until the summer of 2011, attributing his contract extension to his quick recovery.Etheridge received his first senior team call-up on 11 September 2010, when he was named on the substitute bench as cover for Mark Schwarzer in a home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers due to an injury to regular second choice goalkeeper David Stockdale. In March 2011, Etheridge joined League One club Charlton Athletic on loan, but was recalled six days later without playing for them. Etheridge signed a new contract in May that would extend his stay at Craven Cottage until the summer of 2013.
He made his first senior appearance for Fulham against Odense Boldklub in the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League on 14 December.On 23 March 2012 upon his return to Fulham after completing his international duties, it was announced that Etheridge would be out for the rest of the season due to a wrist injury that was sustained in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup. He recovered quickly and on 9 May he has been able to play in the development squad's last game of the season against the reserves of West Bromwich Albion.
He joined League Two club Bristol Rovers on an initial one-month loan on 20 September 2012.He made his first Football League appearance for Rovers against Fleetwood Town on 22 September, which was his and Rovers' first clean sheet of 2012–13 season. His arrival at the club coincided with an improvement in the club's form, leading to his loan deal being extended until December 2013. On 21 November, Fulham confirmed that Etheridge had been recalled from his loan at Bristol Rovers.
Etheridge signed a one-year extension to his Fulham contract on 8 May 2013, with the option of a further year extension.On 22 November 2013, he joined League One club Crewe Alexandra on loan until 1 January 2014. He rejoined the club once again on 25 February 2014 on loan until 13 April, but was recalled on 4 April by Fulham. At the end of 2013–14 season, he was released by Fulham.
Following his release from Fulham, Etheridge used his own money to train with Charlton, one of his former loan clubs, where he knew the goalkeeping coach. Struggling to make a living, he was set to return to the Philippines and had already sold his house and cars before joining League One club Oldham Athletic on a two-month deal on 30 October 2014.During his time with the club, he lived at his friend's house, sleeping on the sofa, later describing his situation as "what you’ve got to do to get by." Etheridge later reminisced on his circumstances, stating that he questioned whether he would ever play football again. He made one appearance for Oldham during his time with the club during a Football League Trophy match against Preston North End.
Etheridge rejoined Charlton Athletic on 27 November 2014 on a one-month loan deal.He made his league debut, for Charlton on 26 December 2014, in a 1–1 draw against Cardiff City. Manager Bob Peeters had opted to play Etheridge, Charlton's third choice goalkeeper, ahead of second choice Nick Pope whose performances in previous games Peeters had described as "a bit unlucky". After the loan, he signed a signed a short-term contract on 5 January 2015 with Charlton until the end of the 2014–15 season. He was released on 12 May 2015 following the end of his contract.
Etheridge joined League One club Walsall on 2 July 2015 after agreeing a two-year deal.Signed to compete with Craig MacGillivray for the first choice goalkeeper spot, he made his debut for the club on the opening day of the 2015–16 season in a 1–1 draw with his former club Oldham. Etheridge credits Walsall's goalkeeper coach Neil Cutler with improving his ability, commenting that Cutler had "taken me to another level." Cutler himself praised Etheridge's progression, stating "with a bit more experience he can go as high as he wants because he makes match-winning saves." In his first season, he made 50 appearances in all competitions, helping the side reach the League One play-offs where they suffered defeat in the semi-final to Barnsley.
During his second season with Walsall, Etheridge was one of just four senior players retained from the previous year.He kept 12 clean sheets in 44 appearances as the club finished the season in 14th place, missing the last five matches of the season due to injury. In January 2017, Cardiff City approached Walsall over a potential transfer but pulled out due to the asking price. He played a total of 94 matches with Walsall during his two seasons at the club.
On 30 May 2017, Etheridge signed for Championship club Cardiff City on a free transfer, after rejecting a new three-year contract with Walsall.Etheridge made his debut for the club on the opening day of the 2017–18 season, keeping a clean sheet during a 1–0 victory over Burton Albion. Etheridge performed well enough playing for Cardiff that fellow goalkeeper Lee Camp was loaned to Sunderland after recovering from injury. He helped his club earn promotion to the Premier League, featuring in 45 out of 46 league matches of the 2017–18 Championship season, keeping 19 clean sheets and conceding 37 goals.
Following the club's promotion, Etheridge was rewarded with a new three-year contract by the club.On 11 August 2018, he became the first player from the Philippines and Southeast Asia to play in the Premier League, in a 2–0 loss to Bournemouth, during which he saved a penalty from Callum Wilson. His penalty save also made him the first goalkeeper to save a penalty on his Premier League debut since Allan McGregor for Hull City in 2013. A week later, he saved another penalty in injury time, from Newcastle United's Kenedy, to guarantee a goalless draw. Etheridge's impressive form led to him being nominated for the August Player of the Month award.
Etheridge is a former England under-16 international, having played in the 2005 Victory Shield,in which England and Wales eventually shared the trophy. Despite having represented England at youth level, he remained eligible to represent the Philippines through his mother.
In 2007, Etheridge received an invitation to play for the Philippines but declined the offer, citing unfamiliarity with the language and the players.He was again invited in early 2008, this time by the new Philippine Football Federation president Jose Mari Martinez. He eventually accepted the invitation after speaking to the new manager and learning about the set up, and after encouragement from Chelsea youth teammate Phil Younghusband. He officially switched allegiance to the Philippines in April 2008. He made his full international debut against Brunei in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers, playing in all three of his country's matches. He kept three clean sheets but the Philippines still failed to qualify due to an inferior goal difference to group winners Tajikistan.
He was called up again later that year for the 2008 AFF Suzuki Cup qualification matches.In their opening match, Etheridge got his fourth successive clean sheet, as the Philippines defeated Timor-Leste 1–0. However, in their remaining three fixtures, Etheridge conceded five goals as the Philippines won another match, drew one and lost one, before being eliminated on the basis of their goals scored record after finishing tied for second. Etheridge would later credit his debut for the Philippines in 2008 to his later progress in his club career in 2018 due to having experienced playing for the national team before a crowd of up to 90,000.
In 2010, Etheridge was named in the Philippines' squad for the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup. The Philippines came in second in their group, with one win and two draws, and conceding only one goal.But both legs of the semi-finals ended in 1–0 defeats for the Philippines against Indonesia. He was then called up for his country for the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers where he conceded only a single goal, enabling the Philippines to qualify for the group stage. Etheridge announced his interest to join the squad for the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup but was originally in doubt to be included due to club commitments. However, after receiving clearance from Fulham to travel, he was included in the final 23-man squad.
On 9 March 2012 against North Korea, he saved a penalty taken by Pak Song-chol in the 16th minute as the match ended 2–0.He was sent off in the closing minutes of the semi-final match against Turkmenistan, which the Philippines lost 2–1. Due to the red card, he was suspended for the subsequent third place play-off match, where the Philippines defeated Palestine 4–3.
In August 2014, Etheridge was not included in the training squad for the 2014 Peace Cup, which also serves as the country's preliminary squad for the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup, due to a lack of first team club football. He labelled manager Thomas Dooley "disrespectful" over the omission.
In October 2016, it was announced that Etheridge would not be included in the 2016 AFF Championship squad, because of club commitments with Walsall. Etheridge expressed disappointment of missing out on the regional championship, but added that he was committed to playing for his club.In 2018, Etheridge was part of the Philippines' squad that qualified for the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in the nation's history.
In the Philippines, Etheridge has worked as an underwear model.In 2015, he opened the Neil Etheridge Goalkeeping Academy in Manila.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Charlton Athletic (loan)||2010–11||League One||0||0||—||—||—||0||0|
|Bristol Rovers (loan)||2012–13||League Two||12||0||—||—||—||12||0|
|Crewe Alexandra (loan)||2013–14||League One||4||0||—||—||—||4||0|
|Oldham Athletic||2014–15||League One||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||1||0|
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