11 July 2024

Muangthong United and Thailand goalkeeping legend Kawin Thamsatchanan hung up his gloves on Monday, bringing down the curtain on a remarkable 17-year career.

The 34-year-old took to Facebook to share a heartfelt retirement message, reflecting on a journey that saw him rise to prominence both in Thailand and on the international stage.

Kawin conveyed a deep sense of gratitude to fans as he looked back on an adventure that began as a schoolboy and culminated in numerous accolades and memorable moments at the highest level.

Kawin was born on January 26, 1990, in Bangkok. His passion for football was evident early on, and in 2006, he began his youth career with Raj Pracha.

A year later, he made his senior debut, showcasing his potential as a formidable goalkeeper.

His early promise did not go unnoticed, and in 2008, defending Division 2 champions Muangthong United signed the prodigy at the tender age of 18.

Kawin’s impact at Muangthong United was immediate and profound.

Goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan applauds fans after a match.

He quickly secured his position as the first-choice goalkeeper and played a crucial role in helping the team win the Division 1 title in his debut season.

This victory propelled Muangthong United into the Thai Premier League, where Kawin continued to excel.

His exceptional skills and leadership were pivotal in the team’s consecutive league title wins in 2009 and 2010.

One of the highlights of his domestic career came in the 2016 AFC Champions League semifinal against Johor Darul Ta’zim, where Kawin recorded three saves during the penalty shootout, earning him the man-of-the-match award.

Move to Europe

Kawin’s ambition and talent soon led him to seek new challenges abroad. In 2018, he made his move to Europe, signing a five-year contract with OH Leuven B in Belgium’s First Division B.

Kawin quickly established himself as the first-choice goalkeeper, delivering outstanding performances that earned him recognition in Belgium.

He was named in the Proximus League’s Matchday 27 team of the week following a standout performance in a draw against Beerschot Wilrijk.

After OH Leuven was promoted, Kawin achieved another historic milestone by becoming the first Thai player to compete in the Belgian top league, against Cercle Brugge in April 2021.

After success in Europe, Kawin’s journey eventually brought him back to Thailand.

In 2021, he joined Port in the Thai League, where fans were treated to a goalkeeping skill set sharpened by three years in Belgium.

Wearing the Number 1 jersey, he made seven appearances in the 2021-22 season.

In August 2022, Kawin rejoined Muangthong United, wearing the Number 26 jersey, completing a full circle in his illustrious career.

But it was Kawin’s contributions to the Thai national team that made him a famous name across the country.

He made his debut for the senior team at the 2010 King’s Cup and soon became a key player.

He was the starting goalkeeper for Thailand in the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup and represented the country in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games with the U23 team that won the gold.

Kawin was also the flagbearer for Thailand in the 2014 Asian Games, where he captained the U23 team as one of the overaged players in the squad.

Inspiring next generation

Reflecting on his career, Kawin expressed deep gratitude for the opportunities and experiences football has brought him.

“Today is the day I will retire from professional football. I have spent 17 years of my life competing in the professional game. Playing my final match for Muangthong will be a cherished memory,” he stated.

He also extended heartfelt thanks to the Thai national team, calling it his home and expressing his pride in representing Thailand in over 69 matches at the senior level.

Kawin hoped that his journey would inspire others and create good memories for fans and aspiring footballers.

Kawin’s retirement marks the end of a key chapter in Thai football. His career, marked by resilience, dedication, and excellence, has left an indelible mark on the sport.

As he steps away from the field, his legacy will continue to inspire future generations of Thai players as they look to make a mark on the national and international scene.

By Thai PBS World’s Sport Desk