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Seb Buddle: My ambition is to play for the Hong Kong national team

Seb Buddle was born two years after the British hand over of Hong Kong to China but it was only recently that he gave up his British passport in order to pursue a career in international football.

The 20-year-old forward plays for Ktchee, the biggest team in the territory. Having joined the side at the age of 10, he has had the best footballing upbringing a young talent can have in Hong Kong and has played alongside the likes of Diego Forlan and Mohamed Sissoko since turning pro.

He is born and raised in Hong Kong but to English parents and regularly returns to the homeland of his parents to visit family.

In 2016, Buddle signed his first professional contract with Kitchee at the age of 16. This came after he had spent time on trial with Scottish Premiership side Hearts.

He went on to make his pro debut for Kitchee the following year as a substitute in the Hong Kong Premier League. The following season, 2017/18, he was part of the side who lifted one of the country’s domestic honours, the Sapling Cup, and the club have won two league and cup titles whilst he has been in the first team.

Last season he spent time on loan at fellow Hong Kong Premier League side Hoi King, making eight appearances. He then returned to Kitchee where last summer, he played against Phil Foden and co. as his side hosted Manchester City in a prestigious pre-season friendly.

International ambitions remain for the forward. The Hong Kong national team are a fully fledged member of FIFA and currently ranked as the 143rd best nation in the world. The nation has a history of calling up neutralised players in the past. English born defenders Andy Russell and Jack Sealy have more than 40 caps between them for Hong Kong. Their current head coach is famous Finnish striker Mixu Paatelainen and he is the man Buddle will have to impress if he is to follow in the footsteps of Russell and Sealy.

I caught up with the 20-year-old to hear more about his upbringing with Kitchee and what the future holds.

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Great experience playing @mancity 2️⃣0️⃣🎉

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English Players Abroad: Do you still have family in England and do you get the chance to visit England often?

Seb Buddle: Yes, all my family are in England, mostly in London. I go back to London every season break.

EPA: What was the football scene like growing up in Hong Kong, is it a good place to develop as a footballer?

SB: It has been good. I was lucky enough to train at Kitchee academy since the age of 10, which has always had a good structure and standard of coaching.

EPA: What is life like as a professional footballer in Hong Kong? Are you training every day and are the facilities impressive?

SB: I enjoy it, apart from the hour and a half journey to the training centre. Hong Kong is an amazing city, so it’s great. We usually train everyday and have a match at the week. Our facility is great, we have our own centre with pitches and gym. It’s also being extended currently.  

EPA: Did you enjoy the loan spell last season at Hoi King and are you no targeting regular football with Kitchee when football returns?

SB: Yes, it was a good experience. Managed to get a lot more playing time in the Premier League. It helped me improve a lot and mature as a player. Yes, I hope I can get more playing time. I managed 11 appearances in about 19 games before the suspension. So I hope to build on this. 

EPA: Do you have ambitions of playing for the Hong Kong national team in the future?

SB: Yes, I recently obtained my Hong Kong passport with ambitions to play for the national team. The national team is improving and I hope I can be a part of that. 

EPA: What are your goals for the future, is there anywhere else you would like to play?

SB: I aim to play at the highest level I can play at. I am enjoying my time with Kitchee and they are helping me development so I’m happy for now.  

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