Charyl Chappuis wants to celebrate like John Cena in WC qualifier

Thailand midfielder Charyl Chappuis says he will celebrate like WWE wrestler John Cena should he inspire his nation to victory over Saudi Arabia in Thursday's 2018 AFC World Cup qualifier in Bangkok.

Swiss-born Chappuis admits that he is a big wrestling fan, and has been inspired by Cena, who is a 13-time WWE champion.

Chappuis is back in favour within the Thailand squad after playing an influential role in the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup, as the Thais won the regional crown for a record fifth time with victory over Indonesia in December's final.

But now, Kiatisuk Senamuang's side return to the much tougher qualifying path for Russia 2018. Their first four Group B games ended in defeat, before a vastly improved performance to draw 2-2 with Asian champions, Australia, last November.

"It would be a dream to reach the World Cup with Thailand. The country would go crazy. Of course, it's going to be tough, but I'll never stop dreaming," Chappuis told www.fifa.com, before adding: "If I score against Saudi Arabia, then maybe I'll celebrate like John Cena."

The 25-year-old adopted Cena's "never give up moniker" as he overcame a career-threatening knee injury that sidelined him for more than 16 months in 2015 and 2016. With more than 1.4 million followers on Instagram, Chappuis frequently uses the #nevergiveup hashtag.

"I suppose I copied it a little bit from John Cena," he says. "I'm a big wrestling fan and it isn't just the Bundesliga I watch at weekends -- I also watch wrestling."

����⚽️ #chappuis #cc7 #thailandnationalteam���� #nevergiveup #believethat #hakunamatata #liveyourlife Cr. �� @changsuek

A post shared by Charyl Chappuis (@7charyl) on

Chappuis' strong interest in European football comes from his days playing alongside Haris Seferovic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka in the Switzerland side who won the 2009 U17 FIFA World Cup.

But in 2013, he opted to represent Thailand, the nation of his mother, initially joining Buriram United, before moving to Suphanburi.

However, he admits that sometimes he wonders what would have happened had he decided to stay in Europe. He revealed that in 2009 he turned down the opportunity to head to Italy's Serie A from Switzerland's Grasshoppers.

"I'm really happy with how my life and my career have developed," Chappuis said.

"However, given what I know now, when I look back, I sometimes think that maybe I should've accepted the offer from Juventus after winning the U17 World Cup. Then again, at the time I was nervous about going abroad and leaving my family."

At Bangkok's Rajamangala Stadium on Thursday night, the Thais will face a Saudi side who sit top of Group B, on goal difference, from Japan. The Japanese defeated Thailand 2-0 at the same venue last September.

But their inspirational performance against Mile Jedinak's Australians in their most recent qualifier in the Thai capital has local supporters dreaming of an upset.

"The fans' optimism is the same as ever," says Chappuis. "They support us fantastically and expect a win against Saudi Arabia, although that will be very, very tough; tougher than the fans maybe realise. We're not going to put ourselves under too much pressure and we're going to keep enjoying our football."

In the other Group B games on Thursday, Iraq play Australia in Tehran and the United Arab Emirates face Japan in Al Ain. On March 28, Thailand will travel to Saitama for a World Cup qualifying re-match with the Japanese.