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Natakorn Thiamkeerakul - a quiet hero behind the success of Akira Nishino in Thailand

Natakorn Thiamkeerakul - a quiet hero behind the success of Akira Nishino in Thailand

In football, the glamor and charm of matches can cause a few roles to overshadow. And an often overlooked position like that is the translator.

However, the role of an interpreter holds great responsibility and can create or disrupt the career of a coach in a foreign country, where they have to rely heavily on how indigenous speakers understand their philosophy and ideas in order to spread to the players.

It is no surprise that the most famous translator in world football has become one of the greatest coaches the sport has ever seen - Jose Mourinho, who started his career as an interpreter for Sir Bobby Robson at Sporting Portugal.

And one person who is also quite good at the job is Natakorn Thiamkeerakul, a personal translator for Thailand national football team's head coach Akira Nishino.

64-year-old Nishino was appointed as Thailand's head coach in July 2019 when the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier was very close and the former Japanese coach's failure to speak Thai would make him difficult - if he did not cooperate with the 30-year-old interpreter Natakorn.

Natakorn Thiamkeerakul - a quiet hero behind the success of Akira Nishino in Thailand

"I saw the announcement of the Thai Football Federation (FAT) about the appointment of Mr. Nishino as the Thai national team head coach and I applied even before FAT launched Nishino at the press conference", Natakorn Thiamkeerakul said in an exclusive interview.

The young Natakorn moved to Japan when he was in elementary school. He studied Japanese and returned to Thailand to complete his high school and university education at Chulalongkorn University - majoring in political science.

When he was young, he started watching and playing football at the age of 5. In Japan, he also regularly participates in J1 League matches while closely watching Thai League and Thai national football team in general.

In the early days of his career, he helped Nishino as he sought players in various matches throughout Thailand, and was also an intermediary between Sirisak Yodyardthai and the newly appointed coach.

“This is my first time working in football. However, recently when Consadole Sapporo and Sanfrecce Hiroshima came to Thailand to prepare for the pre-season, I had the opportunity to work as an interpreter at a children's football clinic, attended by Chanathip Songkrasin. and Shinji Ono as well as two other Sanfrecce players”, he said.

He also had the opportunity to become a personal translator for Thitipan Puangchan when the Thai midfielder moved to Oita Trinita in Japan. "However, for some reason, I could not move away immediately and missed that opportunity", Natakorn said.

Natakorn Thiamkeerakul - a quiet hero behind the success of Akira Nishino in Thailand

“Even so, I didn't know that at that moment I would have the opportunity to become Nishino's translator, it was unexpected. Maybe in the future, if any Thai player moves to the J1 League, I will try and apply again”, he said.

Natakorn believes that translation work in football comes with a different kind of challenge. "To be a good interpreter, you have to understand the specifics and terminology of football", he said.

"I have to keep up to date with soccer news in both Thai and Japanese and also have a soccer vocabulary to communicate between coaches and players", he said.

For now, it looks like Natakorn's interpretation techniques are going smoothly as seen on the pitch on Tuesday when Thailand beat UAE 2-1 to take the top position in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying group G in Asian region.

And without a doubt, the young Thai translator also contributed a small part to the success of the War Elephants at the moment.