1
Dec

20-month-old baby becomes world’s youngest pro footballer

imageImage: Photonews via Het Laatste Nieuws

Bryce Brites is only 20 months old and can’t even properly utter the words “ball” or “goal” but he just became the youngest professional football player on the planet.

This past week, Bryce signed with Belgian club FC Racing Boxberg, based near his home city of Genk, after impressing coaches with his “highly unusual” talent and “incredible” ball control. The precocious toddler was invited to train with the club’s Under-5 team and was signed and issued his very own Belgian FA membership card the very same day.

Amazingly, Bryce misses out on the all-time record for youngest-ever professional by two months. That record apparently belongs to Dutch footballer Baerke van der Meij, who signed a 10-year deal with VVV-Venlo when he was 18 months old.

Racing Boxberg club secretary Dany Vodnik raved about the young prodigy, who is still in diapers, to Dutch newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws:

“Bryce kicks a ball in a way you do not even see when playing drills with four or five-year-olds. His ball control is incredible for his age. The way he dribbles with the ball at his feet between the cones, he can give a pass to the left or right.

“You ask him to kick a ball three or five meters and he does so, but he may not play with the five and six-year-old boys yet. We must remain cautious.“

Given Belgium’s embarrassment of riches in footballing talent recently, Bryce might just live up to the hype in about 15 years or so. But for the meantime, he will likely enjoy instant celebrity status on his neighborhood playgrounds.

H/T 101GG

27
Nov

US-born Julian Green makes Bayern senior team debut

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Bayern Munich won its tenth straight Champions League game on Wednesday at CSKA Moscow, breaking the all-time record shared with the 2002-03 Barcelona team. In the final minutes of the victory, 18-year-old German-American Julian Green celebrated a milestone of his own — the highly-touted forward made his senior team debut for the reigning treble winners.

Green, who was born in Tampa, Florida but moved to Germany at age 2, has featured for both the U.S. and German national teams at youth level, and is yet to decide on his national team allegiance for the future. It is clear that both federations would love to secure the services of the phenom, though he is provisionally tied to Germany after having played for them in the Under-19 European Championships this summer.

Green has dominated the German Regionalliga (fourth tier) this season, scoring 15 goals and six assists in 18 matches for Bayern’s reserve team. His torrid form earned him a senior team contract earlier this month, and on Wednesday his first few minutes of action under Pep Guardiola. Green became the sixth-youngest Bayern player to debut in the Champions League, even beating out several of the team’s top stars, including Philipp Lahm, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos.

Here’s the full list of Bayern’s top 10 youngest players to make their Champions League debut:

  1. David Alaba (2010): 17 years, 8 months, 15 days
  2. Berkant Goektan (1998): 17 years, 9 months, 18 days
  3. Roque Santa Cruz (1999): 18 years, 30 days
  4. Samuel Kuffour (1994): 18 years, 1 month, 29 days
  5. Bastian Schweinsteiger (2002): 18 years, 3 months, 12 days
  6. Julian Green (2013): 18 years, 5 months, 21 days
  7. Toni Kroos (2008): 18 years, 10 months, 1 day
  8. Breno (2008): 18 years. 11 months, 17 days
  9. Philipp Lahm (2002): 19 years, 2 days
  10. Thomas Muller (2009): 19 years, 5 months, 27 days

With the exception of busts Berkant Goektan and Breno, every player on that list went on to have long, successful careers, and most of them (save for Santa Cruz) did so with Bayern. If that is anything to go by, Green is set for a sparking career!

11
Aug

17-year-old hat trick hero becomes the latest Belgian shooting star

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Getty Images

Add Zakaria Bakkali to Belgium’s “golden generation.”

The 17-year-old winger was added to Belgium’s national team squad for their upcoming friendly against France on Thursday, just a day after scoring his first goal for PSV in a Champions League qualifier. Bakkali followed that up with this impressive hat trick for against NEC over the weekend, announcing himself to the world:

There’s got to be something in the Belgian water, right?

After producing the likes of Eden Hazard, Christian Benteke, Axel Witsel, Marouane Fellaini, Simon Mignolet, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku— all of whom are 25 or younger — the Belgians’ seemingly endless talent pool has gotten even richer with the arrival of Bakkali. Are the Rode Duivels suddenly on the verge of becoming one of the world’s best teams?

Maybe so, at least on paper. One thing is for certain: expect Bakkali to play in the Premier League very soon. A Premier League team without a Belgian these days is like a ship without a sail.

3
Aug

11-year-old prodigy becomes first American to join Real Madrid academy

America has longed for a world soccer star like Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s taken an eternity, but we may have finally found one.

Too good to be true? Pinch yourself. 

Joshua Pynadath is an 11-year-old US soccer prodigy and just became the first American to sign with Spanish giants Real Madrid. And did I mention he is American? I think I’m about to pass out.

Pynadath, from Los Altos Hills, CA, was offered a trial at Real last year after having been discovered in a highlight video of his youth club De Anza Force SC in California’s Bay Area. The trial earned him a second tryout this spring, and clearly, that one went so well that Real Madrid finally made the deal. Barcelona also held a tryout for the US youngster, but Pynadath had wanted to sign with Madrid, his favorite club, all along.

After the big move, Joshua told his hometown paper, Los Altos Town Crier:

"I was blown away when I got the official news from Real Madrid. They told me that I was the first American that they have ever accepted into their academy. I told them that I would set a good example."

Though he still has a lot of growing up to do, Pynadath seems destined for greatness and hey, maybe one day he could — dare I say — lead the United States to World Cup glory.

We’re rooting for you, Joshua.

Video by The Guardian

20
May

Young Josh Turnbull - son of keeper Ross Turnbull - gives the Chelsea supporters something else to cheer during the club’s end of season celebrations.

The toddler showed off his amazing dribbling skills in front of the Stamford Bridge crowd, giving the potential incoming manager - Jose Mourinho? - even more striking options. How will Fernando Torres react to this display?