A blog about everything Nigerian football from the Nigeria Professional Football League, the national teams and Nigerian players home and abroad.
Monday, January 6, 2014
FIVE EUROPEAN-BORN KIDS WHO COULD LIGHT UP AFRICA
Gedion Zelalem – Arsenal/Germany/Ethiopia
Saw this piece online and thought i should share it here. Follow this LINK for the original story
Best described as a true multinational, Zelalem qualifies to play for three countries – Germany, Ethiopia and the USA. He was born to Ethiopian immigrants in Germany before moving to the US at the age of 9 in 2006. While in the US, he was called up to a US under-15 camp but failed to feature in any official match. Both the Ethiopian and American national team coaches have recently expressed their desire for the 16-year-old who currently features for Germany under-17s. But it’s his on-the-pitch talent that has caught the eyes of many. Having been signed by Arsenal in January 2013 after being spotted by Arsenal scout and former Gunner Danny Karbassiyoon during the Dallas Cup, Zelalem has been quick to progress from being an under-16 player to an under-21 regular. The player who featured for the Hertha Berlin Academy in his hometown during his time in Germany again surprised many when he was selected in a 24-man squad for Arsenal’s Asian Tour in July prior to season 2013/2014 where he featured in all four matches. He again followed that up with an appearance in the Emirates Cup in a 2-1 defeat to Galatasaray on August 4. And it will be little surprise to see Zelalem make his full senior Arsenal debut in the second round of season 2013/2014.
Denzeil Boadu – Manchester City/England/Ghana
For a player who is only 16-years-old, being already involved in a transfer controversy and having featured at three of the top clubs in England at youth levels tell a lot about him. Born in England to Ghanaian parents, the striker/playmaker started his career at Tottenham Hotspurs before moving to Arsenal. And in December 2012, he will be shockingly released by Arsenal only to be snapped up by Manchester City in July, 2013. But it’s the circumstances surrounding that move that gathered media attention for a player highly rated at the Arsenal Academy. While many cited his release to underperformance, he came out to state that his reluctance to abandon school to pursue full-time soccer, as wanted by Arsenal, led to his release. He soon buttressed his claims later in August with a hat-trick in the finals of the Nordic Tournament with England under-17s to finish the tourney with four goals in four matches. He is currently a consistent performer with the City under-18s.
Adama Traore Diarra – Barcelona/Spain/Mali
Adama Traore is a comparatively known figure among the strong Barcelona fans after having made his senior La Liga debut against Granada in November. He followed that up with another debut in the UEFA Champions League against AFC Ajax in Amsterdam three days later. He, thus, became the ninth youngest player to feature for Barcelona in the Spanish La Liga at just 17 years and 10 months. He is, however, a Barcelona team B regular hoping to cement his place at the senior level. Adama was born on the 25th of January 1996 in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Spain, to Malian parents. The right winger who joined Barcelona in 2004 at age 8 has featured for Spain at under-16, 17 and 19 levels.
Hachim Mastour – A.C Milan/Italy/Morocco
Dubbed the Moroccan Messi, the A.C Milan and Italian youth trequartsta is, perhaps, the most talented in the list. Born in Reggio Emilia, Italy, to Moroccan parents, the 15-year-old has already made a name for himself as the next big thing to hit Italian soccer. And it’s not for no reason that he is compared to current Barcelona and four-time world best player, Lionel Messi. Mastour is a skillful playmaker blessed with pace, dribbling, sweet touches and ball control with an eye for goals. In 2012, he was signed by Milan on a world record teenage transfer of 500,000 Euros from Reggiana after fending off strong competition from Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Juventus and Barcelona as a 14-year-old. Milan, in late 2012, failed in a petition to the Italian F.A for a special permission to play Mastour in the Serie A before the 16-years stipulated age. Mastour has since been a regular with the Milan and the Italian youth set-ups but he is still eligible for Morocco.
Dominic Solanke – Chelsea/England/Nigeria
Domonic Solanke may be relatively unknown at the senior level but he is a huge fans favourite in the Chelsea academy. Enjoying, perhaps, his best season at the club, the Chelsea under-18 marksman and 16-year-old has already bagged 13 goals and 8 assists at the end of the first half of season 2013/2014 including back-to-back hat-tricks in December against Dartford and Reading. Solanke has already featured for the England under-16s and 17s but he is still eligible for Nigeria at senior level.