First graders might dream of being recruited by Real Madrid when they grow up. But some are too cool to wait.
Leonel Angel Coira, a soccer prodigy from Argentina, has been signed by the Spanish club at the astonishing young age of 7. He will begin training on Sept. 6, the team’s spokesman, Juan Tapiador, told the Associated Press.
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But it is yet to be seen whether Coira is the next Lionel Messi, the boy’s idol and compatriot with whom he shares the nickname “Leo.” He even sports a similar floppy hairstyle. Slightly awkward, though, is that Messi is the star of Real Madrid’s biggest rival FC Barcelona. But Coira has told Spanish sports daily Ole that heroes aside, his dream is to be on Real Madrid’s first team.
For now, his contract is with Real Madrid’s youngest team, which is made up of players who are mostly under nine; it’s not unusual for professional clubs to sign young players to participate in their youth academies. Real Madrid’s scouts are constantly on the lookout for talent, although only a fraction of the chosen children turn pro. Coira has nearly a decade to prove himself before he is eligible to play professionally when he turns 16.
The boy’s father, Miguel Coira, told AP that his family will receive no financial compensation from the club. “The contract is for one year and if everything works out it can be renewed for another,” he said. All youth squad members are assessed yearly for development to determine whether each should continue. (via AP)