Posts Tagged ‘year’

Earlier this morning, one of the best teams in the world, Real Madrid, signed Argentinian soccer prodigy Leonel Angel Coira.  There’s only one hitch: he’s seven.  Madrid reportedly signed him because rival Atletico Madrid was also pursuing the child star.

Although Coira should be more at home watching Spongebob than playing soccer over 6,000 miles from

Lionel Messi
Barcelona star Lionel Messi

home, he is not the first person to make the leap from child to professional soccer player.  The two examples that pop into most people’s heads are Lionel Messi (Coira’s idol) and Freddy Adu.

Like Coira, Messi is from Argentina and goes by the name Leo.  Messi was also signed to Barcelona when he was just 15 years old.  He had also been playing professionally for his home town team of Newell’s Old

Leonel Angel Coira
Leonel Angel Coira’s picture from his Facebook page

Boys in Argentina since he was just eight years old.  However, one difference between the two prodigies is that Messi left Argentina for Spain in part because he needed treatment for a growth hormone deficiency.

Freddy Adu is a different story.  Adu was signed to the D.C. United when he was 14.  He was originally from Ghana, but his mother won the Green Card Lottery when he was eight, so he moved to Maryland.  His high school moved him up two grades so he would qualify for varsity sports.  Adu then joined the IMG Soccer Academy and was signed professionally just two years later.

So which path is Coira more likely to take?

It depends on the path that Real Madrid takes.  Barcelona let Messi play sparingly until he was 18 when he played regularly.  However, Adu played on a regular basis from the first time he put on a United uniform.  Of course Messi went on to win World Player of the Year twice while Adu faded into relative anonymity.  Though Adu has made a comeback in recent years, he will likely never become the player that he was made out to be as a teenager.

The biggest difference between the two players is the fact that Adu was signed for publicity.  Neither Barcelona nor Madrid need help attracting fans.  My take: we won’t know for another decade or so.  I think he’ll be a great player, but I wouldn’t use him in a FIFA video game for at least five years or so.