With the help of a Thai interpreter, DeGeneres spoke with the Wild Boars and their coach, Ekkapol Ake Chantawong (known to players as “Coach Ake”), about their harrowing experience being trapped inside Thailand’s Tham Luang Cave for more than two weeks starting on June 23.
“They weren’t scared, and they always had hope,” Chantawong, 25, told the host. “They knew if they didn’t come out, eventually someone would have to come in and get them out anyway.”
Team members said they remained calm throughout their ordeal ― without food or supplies ― through a lot of prayer and meditation. None were aware, however, that the rescue mission had made global headlines until they were all safely out of the cave and transported to a hospital.
Looking ahead, the Wild Boars players said they want to receive a good education and become professional soccer players to help take care of their families.
DeGeneres saved a number of surprises for the end of the interview. After presenting the team with pint-sized jerseys bearing her likeness, she introduced LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimović to the players.
Ibrahimovic had nothing but praise for the boys.
“I thought I was brave, but this team is braver than me,” he said. “This is probably the best team in the world.”