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REAL MADRID SIGNS 7 YEAR OLD SOCCER PRODIGY

REAL MADRID SIGNS 7 YEAR OLD SOCCER PRODIGY

(Photo by spitsnieuws.nl)  

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.

First, Real had learned of interest in the second-grader by crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid. That, in itself, is sometimes enough to push Real to make a premature move.

Then there's the 7-year-old's nickname: Leo. It goes without saying that the similarities with Barcelona superstar Leo Messi -- widely regarded as the current greatest player in the world -- don't stop there, either.Coira openly idolizes Messi, who also hails from Argentina but didn't leave the South American country until his teenage years.

Like Messi, Coira wears number 10. And like Messi, he dreams of starring for the Argentinian national team. They both already sport their own Facebook fan pages, too. They even look more than a little bit similar (if you imagine Messi as a 7-year-old, of course). Really, the only thing that does clearly separate Messi and Coira are the spelling of their first names -- Leo Messi is Lionel whereas Leo Coira is Leonel -- and Messi's well-stocked trophy case.

Still, the Coira family insisted that the precocious youngster spent time at both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in brief tryouts and came away feeling much more comfortable with the youth program at Real Madrid. Coira's father, Miguel Coira, also insisted that the family will not receive any compensation for sending their younger son to Real Madrid, though he did acknowledge that the club would pay for transportation to and from Argentina. (more)

VIDEO OF THE SOCCER PHENOM (Spanish)

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Article by CAMERON SMITH, Yahoo! Sports | Read full article here

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