Current Weather
The Spy FM

Young Soccer Players Shoot For Stardom In Europe

Filed by KOSU News in World News.
August 14, 2011

South America has produced more than its share of soccer superstars. The soccer giant Real Madrid is banking on Leonel Angel Coira of Argentina to become one of them. Last week the club signed the soccer prodigy to a one-year contract. When the contract expires, young Leonel will be all of 8 years old.

“Well everyone’s looking for the next big thing,” Tim Stannard, who writes for the soccer publication FourFourTwo, tells Weekend Edition guest host John Ydstie.

Stannard says Lionel Messi from Barcelona, who some would call the best soccer player in the world, was signed at the age of 13. He was in the youth academy and made his debut at 17.

“It’s a low-cost gamble. Of course, there is cost involved in looking after the kids, coaching them over the years,” he says, “but whether you want to keep the player to become a home-grown superstar, it’s priceless, or indeed if you eventually end up selling on the player, it can be an enormous benefit on your investment.”

Leonel will not get paid as part of his contract. Stannard says he will be educated as normal and then head to the Real Madrid training center with 200 other kids. Beneath its famous first team, Real Madrid has under-18s, under-17s and under-16s.

Even if they don’t make it to the first team, the young soccer players can still make a good career out of the sport, Stannard says. They may have a shot at another club or lower down the leagues.

“Barcelona and Real Madrid and a club like Manchester United are the three biggest, most famous and best clubs in the world, so to get to the very top is immensely difficult,” he says.

Signing on promising young soccer players, Stannard says, can be a lucrative business for smaller clubs.

“If you sign a youngster at the age of 10, 11, 12, bring him up, you can actually sell him on perhaps at the age of 18, 19, 20 for a huge profit,” he says. “In fact, that’s actually how some clubs survive.”

The word “exploitation” doesn’t come up much, Stannard says, but he says it is seen as very tough for the young players who get rejected.

“[Managers] do say the hardest job in the world is when they have to bring in youngsters into their office and say, ‘Sorry, you’ve been with us six, seven years, you’re not going to make it in our first team.’” [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

12AM to 5AM The Spy

The Spy

An eclectic mix of the Spy's library of more than 10,000 songs curated by Ferris O'Brien.

Listen Live Now!

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

View the program guide!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center