Habib Makanjuola is currently representing Nigeria at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, despite being just 14-years-old.
Ever heard of a young man by the name of Habib Makanjoula? No, well get used to it because at 14-years-old he is the youngest player to have played so far (Braciano Ta Di of Ivory Coast will break that if he features, he is just 13-years-old) at this year’s Under-17 FIFA World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
The FIFA Under-17 World Cup is currently under way, and the tournament that has previously unearthed gems such as Cesc Fabregas, Toni Kroos and Landon Donovan is sure to discover a few more for teams from the Premier League and around the globe to purr over.
Makanjuola however is already one of them, after signing for Chelsea in August 2012.
He said at the time that Barcelona, Lyon and Manchester United were all also interested in his talents, but he liked the development facilities at Chelsea so chose The Blues as the club to help him realise an ambitious dream:
‘’I settled for Chelsea because of their youth development programmes. I am confident that with what I saw in the club, I will realize my ambition to become the world's best football player at the age of 17.’’
Wow, such self-belief for one so young, but he does have the skills to achieve his dream - at least, ball juggling skills that is.
Makanjuola won the Red Bull World Football Juggling tournament in South Africa back in 2010 - at the age of 12.
He even performed in front of 80,000 people at a Christian convention in the same year, receiving a scholarship to study in England as a reward for his excellence.
He moved to Cambridge, and then had his trials at Chelsea which got him to this point today - 14-years-old and playing among the best 17 and 16-year-olds in world football.
How he can translate his mesmerising skills onto the pitch remain to be seen, and despite wearing the number ‘7’ shirt in UAE he has only so far featured as a late substitute against Mexico.
But Chelsea fans, remember the name Habib Makanjuola - because if he lives up to his own expectations, he is going to be a household name in three years’ time.
Here is a video of him performing his ball-juggling routine … and before you criticise the final minute or so remember this…
He is 12-years-old at the time in front of 80,000 people!
image: © governmentza