Goalie Kawin vows to fight for a place in first team in Belgium
Thailand's top-rated goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan flew to Brussels late on Thursday night to join Belgium's second division side Oud-Heverlee Leuven (OHL) after the team's Thai owner Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha swooped him up in a deal with SCG Muang Thong United.
Kawin, widely acknowledged as one of Thailand's best goalkeepers ever, was given a warm send-off at Suvarnabhumi airport, where a large number of his fans joined his family members and national teammate Adisorn Promrak to bid goodbye.
Kawin signed a five-year contract with OHL owned by Thai duty free retailer King Power Group.
Aiyawatt is OHL president and King Power CEO.
Kawin is under no illusion that it would be a smooth transition. He realises that tough work awaits him.
"It will be a hard work in Belgium," said Kawin before his departure.
"I have studied their [OHL's] style of play and also their players. They also have a good goalkeeper.
"I will try my best and try to get myself a place in the first team as soon as possible, but I will have to work hard to earn that spot."
His former Muang Thong teammates Chanathip Songkrasin, Teerasil Dangda and Theerathon Bunmathan, who recently signed loan deals with J-League sides, have advised Kawin to be patient.
"They have all told me to fight for a place in the first team but be patient," said Kawin.
He added: "I am going to Belgium not for myself but as a representative of Thai players and people.
"I want to prove to the team that Thai players can also play football at a very high level.
"I am ready to face criticism and chants from Belgian fans. It is bound to put me under some pressure, but I will try to convert this pressure into motivation.
"I am keen to prove myself, make everyone realise that I can do it. I am not afraid of anything. It will be a big challenge for me, but I am relishing it."