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Wild Boars: What became of the members of the football team freed from Thai caves in 2018

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It was announced today that the former team captain of the Wild Boars football team – 12 members of which famously became trapped in a cave in Thailand in 2018 – has tragically died in Britain at the age of 17.

Duangpetch ‘Dom’ Promthep had moved to Leicestershire in late 2022 to join the prestigious Brooke House College Football Academy after winning a scholarship.

The cause of Dom’s death on Tuesday was not immediately released by the school, but initial reports said he suffered a head injury.

The 12 young footballers, along with their coach, became trapped for two weeks when the cave they were exploring flooded. Their ordeal and eventual rescue – involving nearly 100 divers – gripped international headlines for weeks.

But despite shooting to global fame, relatively little has been heard publicly from the boys and their coach since they were rescued from the Tham Luang cave. As they mourn the loss of their friend, MailOnline looks at where the Wild Boars are now.

It was announced today that the former team captain of the Wild Boars football team (pictured after their rescue in 2018), 12 members of which famously became trapped in a cave in Thailand in 2018, has sadly died in Britain at the age of 17

It was announced today that the former team captain of the Wild Boars football team (pictured after their rescue in 2018), 12 members of which famously became trapped in a cave in Thailand in 2018, has sadly died in Britain at the age of 17

Duangpetch Promthep (pictured centre) was among the 12 young football players on the Wild Boars team who became trapped by rising floodwaters for two weeks. It was announced this week that he passed away in Leicestershire, UK where he was on a football scholarship

Duangpetch Promthep (pictured centre) was among the 12 young football players on the Wild Boars team who became trapped by rising floodwaters for two weeks. It was announced this week that he passed away in Leicestershire, UK where he was on a football scholarship

At the time of their rescue, the boys were aged between 11 and 17, while coach Ekkaphon Kanthawong (aka Eak) was 25. 

Fours years on, some of them are now adults, with the limited information available suggesting they all did their best to return to their normal lives after their ordeal.

They returned to school – either in Thailand or abroad – and some of their social media pages suggest some continued to pursue their love of football.

Reports online say several of the boys still reside in their native province of Chiang Rai. This includes then-11-year-old hanin ‘Titan’ Viboonrungruang, as well as now 17-year-olds Panumart ‘Mix’ Saengdee  and Mongkhon ‘Mark’ Bunpiam.

As of 2022, it was reported that Somphong ‘Pong’ Jaiwong was enrolled at Chiang Mai Technical College in the Thai cultural hub of the Si Phum sub-district.

Mark, Adul Sam-on (Dul) and coach Eak – along with another of the boys – were all stateless at the time of them becoming trapped in the caves. In September 2018, all four were granted legal Thai citizenship by the country’s government.

The government vowed to end statelessness by 2024. 

Dul, who was the only English speaker in the group and the first to speak to the British rescue divers who were the first to find them in the cave, has since travelled to the United States to study there.

Members of the Wild Boars soccer team pose for a photo during their return to the Tham Luang caves, where they were trapped in a year ago, in Chiang Rai, Thailand, June 24, 2019

Members of the Wild Boars soccer team pose for a photo during their return to the Tham Luang caves, where they were trapped in a year ago, in Chiang Rai, Thailand, June 24, 2019

Pictured: Adul Sam-on (Dul). Posts on social media suggest the Wild Boar is currently studying in the US

Social media suggest Phiphat 'Nick' Photh (pictured) is working as a rescue worker in Thailand

Adul Sam-on (Also known as Dul) is currently in the United States, according to posts on social media. Reports suggest he is studying there. Social media posts also suggest Phiphat ‘Nick’ Photh (pictured right) is working as a rescue worker in Thailand

Duangpetch 'Dom' Promthep had moved to Leicestershire in late 2022 to join the prestigious Brooke House College Football Academy after winning a scholarship

Duangpetch ‘Dom’ Promthep had moved to Leicestershire in late 2022 to join the prestigious Brooke House College Football Academy after winning a scholarship 

Pictured: This still image shows the 12 boys and their coach when they were first found inside the cave complex in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park

Pictured: This still image shows the 12 boys and their coach when they were first found inside the cave complex in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park

All 12 Wild Boar players, pictured from top left clockwise, Adul Sam-on, 14, Panumas Saengdee, 13, Sompong Jaiwong, 13, Ekkarat Wongsookchan, 14, Pipat Bodhi, 15, Peerapat Sompiangjai, 16, Pornchai Kamluang, 16, Prajak Sutham, 14, Chanin Wiboonrungrueng, 11, Mongkol Boonpiam, 14, Nattawut 'Tle' Takamsai, 14 and Duangpetch Promthep, 13

All 12 Wild Boar players, pictured from top left clockwise, Adul Sam-on, 14, Panumas Saengdee, 13, Sompong Jaiwong, 13, Ekkarat Wongsookchan, 14, Pipat Bodhi, 15, Peerapat Sompiangjai, 16, Pornchai Kamluang, 16, Prajak Sutham, 14, Chanin Wiboonrungrueng, 11, Mongkol Boonpiam, 14, Nattawut ‘Tle’ Takamsai, 14 and Duangpetch Promthep, 13

Posts on his social media pages in 2022 suggested he was attending a summer programme Cornell University, and is currently enrolled in The Master’s School in New York. He is set to graduate later in 2023.

Pictures on his Facebook show that he still frequents football pitches, is a regular at the gym, and appears to be enjoying life on campus. 

According to the New York Times, Dul is proficient in five languages. While he dreamed of being a local doctor – his rescue and the international attention it drew inspired him to think further afield. 

Now, the newspaper says, he hopes of going on to work for humanitarian causes, – possibly even for the United Nations.

Meanwhile, Ekkarat ‘Biw’ Wongsukchan and Phonchai ‘Tee’ Khamluangare are still dedicated to football, it is understood, while Phiphat ‘Nick’ Phothi is engaged, and works at a rescue centre, reports in Thailand have suggested.

Pictures of his Facebook page show him posing next to ambulances and working in a emergency response centre.

Upon hearing the news of his friend’s death, Phiphat posted a picture of a smiling Dom out in the countryside. ‘RIP. Dom, your future is on a great journey. You will be in our memory forever,’ he wrote.

Little information was available about Nattawut ‘Tle’ Takamrong (then 14) or Phiraphat ‘Night’ Somphiangchai (who turned 17 while he was in the cave) or Prachak ‘Note’ Sutham, who was 15 when he became trapped.

Coach Eak, meanwhile, is understood to have established his own football training facility called Eakapol Academy in the small village of Mae Sai.

Like Dul, Duangpetch ‘Dom’ Promthep also moved abroad for school. He is understood to have moved to Leicester in the UK, where he sadly died this week.

He was enrolled at the prestigious Brooke House College football academy in the country of Leicestershire after being given a scholarship by the Zico Foundation, a Thai-based organisation.

After arriving in the UK, Promthep shared numerous pictures of his new life at the Leicester football academy. 

Photos shared on his social media include snaps of him and his friends playing football as well as shots of him celebrating a ‘very cold first Christmas in the UK.’

Other photos show the teenager playing with his friends outside of lessons and visiting tourist sights like Tower Bridge in London. 

In one picture taken shortly after accepting his scholarship, the teenager thanked his father for his support and said: ‘Don’t worry Dad, I’ll study hard.’

Speaking in late 2022, Dul’s great uncle Go Shin Maung told the New York Times that the boys are ‘going their own ways’.

‘Some will pursue their studies and some are following football. They still chat and message with each other, sharing their experiences,’ he said. 

The newspaper gives a reason behind the relatively limited information available about the lives of the twelve boys since their rescue.

The boys and their families sold the rights to their stories to a government-connected company, the New York Times reports. This was then sold to Netflix. 

Under the agreement, the boys and their coach are not allowed to tell their stories publicly for years. The Times reported that several of the boys and their families declined to comment when contacted.

The Eastern Mirror reported that a company formed by the boys’ parents named 13 Tham Luang (named after the cave) looks after their image rights.

It was reported in 2019 that each of the boys made £72,000 in the deal. 

Following their rescue, the boys were invited to the United Kingdom to attend a Manchester United football match, they attended the Summer Youth Olympics, and even appeared on talk show Ellen with Ellen DeGeneres in the United States.

Thai soldiers relay electric cable deep into the Tham Luang cave at the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai on June 26, 2018

Thai soldiers relay electric cable deep into the Tham Luang cave at the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai on June 26, 2018

Thai coach Ekkapol Chantawong (C) and members of the "Wild Boars" football team take their seats in the stand for the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 28, 2018

Thai coach Ekkapol Chantawong (C) and members of the “Wild Boars” football team take their seats in the stand for the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 28, 2018

Pictured: Members of the 'Wild Boars' football team pose with coach Ekkapol Chantawong (centre) during a press conference in Bangkok on April 30, 2019 regarding a Netflix series about the rescue of the team from the Tham Luang cave

Pictured: Members of the ‘Wild Boars’ football team pose with coach Ekkapol Chantawong (centre) during a press conference in Bangkok on April 30, 2019 regarding a Netflix series about the rescue of the team from the Tham Luang cave

There has also been at least six books written about their miraculous story, and seven film or television adaptions have been either made or comissioned.

In 2022, Netflix released a limited series called Thai Cave Rescue, which is the only dramatic production which was granted access to the Wild Boars.

In October last year, the streaming giant also released ‘The Trapped 13: How We Survived The Thai Cave’ which features interviews with some of the boys.

Amazon released another dramatisation, called Thirteen Lives, in 2022. The film was directed by Ron Howard, and released in 2022.

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