Barcelona signs nine-year-old schoolboy Zak became “Irish Messi”

A boy from Castleknock has caught the eye of more than one football club at a particularly young age named Zak Gilsenan is just nine.Gilsenan scored seven goals in the trial to beat a field of 400 young hopefuls to join the FCB Escola football academy.Thus he has won a place at FCBE Scola, the football academy which is part of a world-renowned training facility in La Masia and turned out not only Messi but also other legends such as Xavi and Andres Iniesta, who played such an important role in Spain’s majestic victory at Euro 2012.

The academy is also big on imparting intangible values which it lists as “tolerance, respect, solidarity, comradeship, citizenship and integration.”Zak’s parents say they are ready to move from Dublin to Spain if their son’s dreams develop.Zak’s father, Stephen Gilsenan, said: ‘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.When Zak was spotted by Tottenham Hotspur, who were running football camps over there. Zak’s father Stephen works in mining in Australia.Mr Gilsenan added:”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. 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.”The dream of every young footballer: to attract the attention of Barcelona, one of world’s most famous and successful teams came true for Zak.”Zak is already being marked out as ‘a midfield ace’ as well as a natural striker.

We wish him all the best and we hope to see him turn out for the Boys in Green, with John Joe, at World Cup 2022.