European soccer kingpins Barcelona have signed Ireland’s brightest young talent – and he’s just nine years of age.
Dubliner Zak Gilsenan is to move to Spain with his family after winning a place at the soccer academy that produced some of the world’s greatest players.
Zak will follow in the footsteps of his favourite player Lionel Messi and Spanish Euro 2012 winners Xavi and Iniesta at the famous FCBEscola football academy.
The Castleknock youngster saw off 400 kids in a worldwide talent search by the European Cup winners.
He even scored seven goals in a trial match to convince Barca that he has what it takes to make it at the Nou Camp.
Now the Irish Sun reports that his delighted family are to move to Spain to ensure he gets the best chance to become a professional player at the world’s top club.
Dad Stephen told the Irish Sun: “We were living in Australia when Zak was spotted by Spurs, who were running football camps over there.
“We came home with the intention of letting Zak go to Spurs, but in the meantime we had a call from Barcelona. One of their former players saw him playing in Oz and recommended him to Barca.
“They offered Zak a trial in May and it was a great experience. It consisted of over 400 boys from all over the world. He was asked back in June when it was cut down to 90.
“Then in a match between the top 16 players, Zak just ran riot and scored seven goals. He was phenomenal. Then we heard back two weeks ago and they offered him a spot.”
Stephen and his wife Claudia are about to move to Barcelona with Zak, his brother Jamie and actress sister Danielle.
Mining company worker Stephen added: “I know Zak is young to be doing this but kids are like a sponge at this age.
“People say we are mad but in Barcelona he will be educated in the best footballing techniques.
“All we can do is go and see how it develops. We know it’s ruthless over there. We don’t want him turned into a machine, we just want him to enjoy it. It’s his dream to play for Ireland.”