Thai boys trapped in cave the world's best team, says Zlatan on The Ellen DeGeneres Show

PHOTO: Twitter/TheEllenShow

No one has ever accused football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic of shying away from fearsome tackles by rugged defenders. But on Monday (Oct 15), on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, he said: "This team is braver than me. And they show their collective team work. This is probably the best team in the world."

He was referring to the 12 players and coach of Thai side Wild Boars, who turned up on the show to speak about their dramatic rescue from a flooded cave complex in Thailand earlier this year.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, they revealed their survival tactics during the 18 days they were stranded. But why had they entered the cave in the first place? Coach Ekkapol Ake Chantawong said the Tham Luang cave network was a tourist attraction - "some of the boys had never been in and they decided to go in just to see what it was like".

When events turned calamitous, they went into defensive mode. One of the boys said the coach told them to pray and meditate so that they could stay calm and figure out the next game plan.

Asked about their eventual rescue, some of the boys said they were sedated and that it was too dark for them to retain any vivid memories.

Ibrahimovic, who now plays for LA Galaxy, scored with the boys when he invited them to a practice session with his team, while DeGeneres provided an assist by coughing up game tickets.

Boys rescued from Thai cave shave heads to prepare to be Buddhist monks

  • Thai boys rescued from deep inside a flooded cave in a dramatic mission had their heads shaved Tuesday before a Buddhist ordination ceremony in honour of a diver who died during the operation.
  • The saga of the "Wild Boars" football team transfixed the world as divers worked to get them out of the Tham Luang cave where they spent up to 18 days.
  • The 12 boys and their coach were sedated and carried through the waterlogged chambers by the divers.
  • After recuperating in hospital for a week they were sent home with clean bills of health.
  • Now eleven of the footballers are preparing to live as novice monks and stay in monasteries for nine days to "make merit" for former Thai Navy SEAL diver Saman Kunan, who died while installing oxygen tanks along the rescue route.
  • Their coach will also enter the monkhood as an adult. One player, Adul Sam-on, attended the event but will not be ordained as he is a Christian.
  • Dressed in white robes, the teammates gathered at the Wat Pha That Doi Wao temple in northern Thailand's Mae Sai district.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.