Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Real Madrid signs 7-year-old Argentine named Leo
A lot is made about the professionalization of young athletes in America, but young U.S. phenoms have nothing on their Spanish and South American counterparts. If there were ever any doubts about that, they could safely be dispelled on Monday, when it was announced that Spanish soccer giants Real Madrid signed Argentine 7-year-old Leonel Angel Coira to a youth development contract.
To put the entire episode in American context, the Coira signing is essentially like the Red Sox signing an elementary school student from Kalamazoo, Mich., named Derek Jeter Jones (or any other last name), who happened to go by the nickname "Jeter." Needless to say, it just wouldn't happen.
Of course, no American professional franchise would sign a 7-year-old from another country to begin with, even for a designated youth development setup. That's precisely what makes this story all the more incredible, and head scratching when you try to make sense of it all.
Yet officials at Real Madrid insist that there is nothing puzzling about what sparked their interest in Coira. According to club spokesman Juan Tapiador, the 7-year-old is simply a unique talent.
"They only have to be a standout," Tapiador told the AP of Real Madrid's reason for signing Coira at his young age. "We look for something different, that quality or talent that makes them stand out from the rest."
The elder Coira is confident that his son will achieve great things with the Spanish giants, even if they don't come until his idol has finished his playing days with Real's biggest rivals, Barcelona.
"I trust the club a lot," Miguel Coira told ABC. "I know they will take good care of him."