The scouts in the game of football are always on a hunt to spot that next wonder-kid who could be churned out into a future football star. A kid who is a standout performer and shows talent beyond his age. Players like Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar are the byproducts of those search and polish efforts. Well adding to that list is the new kid in the block- Hachim Mastour.
Often billed as Morrocan Messi, this 16 year lad has got the football pundits eyes twinkling with his dazzling piece of skills and dribbling. Even the Brazilian star Neymar, who once battled him in a freestyle was mesmerized by the kid’s artistry with the ball.
Childhood Years and Stint with Inter Milan-
Mastour was born in Reggio emilia,a northern part of Italy, to parents of Morrocan heritage.His association with football began at the tender age of 10 years when he joined a local club named A.C. Reggiana.
Impressing the neighbourhood scouts with his ability, he soon received a call from Inter-Milan. Grabbing this opportunity with both hands, Mastour wore the Inter jersey for few local tournaments.His five goals in Memorial Ielasi tournament in 2012 made the Nerazzurri desperate to sign him
However,the Italian Football Federation’s policy of barring the youth under the age of 14 from leaving their local town prevented him from signing for them.
Inter’s Loss, A.C. Milan’s Gain-
Inter-Milan’s Loss became their nemesis A.C. Milan’s gain. Having already caught the eye of big clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City due to his performances, A.C. Milan decided to step in and splashed out a world record transfer amount of €500,000 for a teenager to get his signature. A hefty price for the player of his age.
Since then he has represented Milan’s under-16 team Allievi Nazionali followed by Italian U-16 national team.In the process he has scored some spectacular goals for the team. Taking note of the young prodigy’s talent, Milan’s U-20 coach Fillipo Inzaghi soon called him into his side.
The biggest leap came when last season he was included in the senior squad for match against Sassuolo by then manager Massimiliano Allegri. After watching him in action Allegri quoted, “He has the quality of Robinho, the professionalism of Kaka and the natural ability of Balotelli”.
Strength and Weakness-
An attacking midfielder by trade, he has also featured at left-wing for Milan’s youth sides.When asked about his main traits as a footballer, Mastour remarks, “My main characteristics? Ball control and dribbling. I do things that other boys my age don’t do”.
Often compared to Zidane because of his frequent display of Zidane-turns in the matches, the young lad considers Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar as his idols and wants to emulate their achievements.His fancy footwork and jugglery with the ball is a constant menace for the defenders.
However there is also a flip side to all his extravagant skills.He is often chided by coaches for showboating and doing that extra unecessary trick which may dodge the young players but pulling it out successfully against the top elite players is a different ball game.
In addition, his thin physical frame is a disadvantage too when it comes to playing against the senior defenders.
Future Football Star- A long way ahead!
It’s a tall order for the teenager to turn his promising talent into a fact. There are plenty of cases where precocious talents have lost their way into wilderness after early promises. The long list of prodigy turned provincial in football is endless.
An awful lot of exposure at a young age to the pressures and temptations of elite football make the lads overwhelmed with their surroundings.This leads to a situation of either break or make for their career.
It takes a lot of dedication,hardwork and consistency to reach the top.Messi and Ronaldo are the best examples of how talent could be nurtured,polished and made into football geniuses.
Nevertheless, Nike the sportswear giants were so sure of the ingenuity of the kid that they signed a 10 year sponsorship deal which runs until 2024. Hachim Mastour has impregnated the eyes of spectators with anticipation searching for another Zidane or Neymar.He could be a new star in the future only if the lad remains grounded and keeps his eyes focussed on the goal and feet firmly on the ground.Published 04 Dec 2014, 00:58 IST