Argentine footballer chooses Da Nang as second home

Sebastian Gaston Merlo, an Argentine footballer, has become an inspiration for sports fans and players in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang with his love for the local football club in the past seven years.
It all started in 2008, when Merlo was playing for a team in his hometown in Cordoba, a city in central Argentina, before he was contacted by a friend, who was a member of a football club in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.
As his friend recommended that he play for the Da Nang club, Merlo packed his bag and headed to the Vietnamese city with his wife, Carolina, who was five months pregnant at the time.
Training was very intense during the first days, Merlo recounted, adding that he had to work extra hard to be noticed by coach Le Huynh Duc.
Hard work did pay off as during the V-League tournaments, Vietnam’s national football championships, in 2009, 2010, and 2011, Merlo was honored with a series of titles, including best foreign player, top goalscorer, among others.
The Argentine player recounted an unfortunate incident in which he suffered a serious knee injury when competing at the 2012 V-League.
Though SHB Da Nang FC offered to send Merlo to Singapore for treatment, the striker decided to return to his hometown, as the love of his family members was what he needed most for his recovery.
Following a prolonged treatment, Merlo was signed by a local football club but he later went back to Da Nang for a second chance as he and his wife were still deeply in love with the Vietnamese beach city.
Merlo had received offers to play for several Argentine, Thai and Malaysian clubs, he stated, adding that he was always loyal to Da Nang.
According to the Argentine, his family considers a peaceful, stable, and safe life the most important factor, all of which the central Vietnamese city provides.
He will only leave when coach Duc refuses to keep him staying, Merlo affirmed.
The Argentine footballer is now living with his wife and their seven-year-old daughter, Cala, in the Vietnamese city.
Da Nang, which they consider their second home, is a friendly beach city, he remarked, elaborating that he and his family are always greeted with a warm smile by locals, which helps ease his homesickness.
His teammates and instructors at the club are also supportive and willing to help him adapt to the Vietnamese lifestyle, which is another reason for Merlo to become more attached to the team.
The striker expressed his wish to become a Vietnamese citizen and intention to coach young Vietnamese football players once he retires.
According to Bui Xuan Hoa, chairman of SHB Da Nang FC, Merlo is expected to be granted Vietnamese citizenship at the end of this year, as all necessary procedures have been completed.