FA Cup history set to be made with 22-year-old manager


(Image via BBC.com)

What were you doing when you were 22 years old? Perhaps you were finishing up college, or starting a new job, likely mixing in some partying. Highly unlikely you were coaching a soccer team in England’s FA Cup.

That’s exactly what Romsey Town manager James Phillips is set to do, believed to be making history in England’s storied tournament. Phillips is likely to become the youngest manager in FA Cup history when Romsey Town faces Fareham Town on Saturday. The Football Association confirmed to BBC Sport they were unaware of anyone younger.

The youngster’s story and rise starts out predictably enough. He played a lot of video games in his early days, namely “Championship Manager.”

"I was one of those sad people after school who was sat there for hours playing Championship Manager," he told BBC Sport. "I always used to try and take a really small club up through the leagues."

The game piqued Phillips’ interest in coaching, kick-starting his coaching career at age 16 with Lyndhurst Football Club.

Last season, Phillips took the position of assistant reserve-team manager at Romsey Town before taking over for management duo Carl Bennett and John McFarlane. Phillips continued to impress, and named the first-team manager in April.

His ambition doesn’t stop there, either. “My ultimate aim is to work in the professional game in some capacity, whether that be as a coach or a manager, in the future.”

From playing video games to living them, Phillips has it figured out.

"Now I’m doing it in real life. It’s a little bit different with a bit more pressure."

Making history is just a BIT more pressure? Way to keep it cool, kid.

(h/t BBC Sport)


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


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