Why was Pan Wen-chieh neglected by the Taiwan's national team for so long

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Pan Wen-Chieh is currently Taiwan's undisputed number one, but for a long time, he was unknown to the fans. The national side had issues finding a decent level keeper to stick between the posts and at this point, Pan was doing his thing in the domestic leagues but it took a while for his call up.

Pan's hard to handle reputation

In 2012, Pan made three appearances for the Taiwan national team. Despite being a very good keeper, the word on the street was that he was too outspoken. This allegedly made him a hard fella to handle for the managers, therefore they'd just rather not call him up for fear of him rocking the boat.

In most 'western' countries being outspoken about the game, how the team played, and how individuals preform is seen as a positive.

However, in Taiwanese society norms, you should not question the management no matter what you're asked to do.

Someone like Pan would struggle in this kind of no questions, no discussions allowed environment, meaning folk like Pan are often labelled as 'hard to handle' when actually they are probably some of the most determined to do well for the team. Something coaches and managers in Taiwan should understand when tarring people as a troublemaker.

Gary White turns fist-pumping Pan into a national icon

Gary White became Taiwan manager in 2017, at this point he began to hold training camps to decide which players he liked and wanted to have in his squads. There was one player in the camps who hadn't been involved previously and he could not fathom out why and guess what that player was Pan.

When White decided to bring Pan into the side, he was questioned by journalists at the time, asking if he knew what he was doing bringing Pan into the side, and was he not worried he could disrupt the team?

His answer was a typical British manager response as he said: "aren't all goalkeepers a bit mental?"

From this moment on, Pan became Taiwan's undisputed number one. Since then he has had some biblical games for the national team. The most famous of all has to be the 2-1 victory over Bahrain in Asian Cup qualifying, where every save was followed by Pan fist-pumping them all and cheering himself on, cheering his team on, and inspiring from the back to keep battling on.

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He also made himself a hero in Hong Kong, with a wonderful display against North Korea in the East Asian Championship second-round, his display kept the score down and managed to send Hong Kong to the final round for the first time in years.

He may then not be everyone's cup of tea, but the displays he has put on a show in goal for Taiwan have been some of the best of his generation. Yes, he can be erratic at times, he can be emotional at times, but those are the things that fans love, and all those combined have made him become one of the first few of Taiwan's national footballing icons.

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