When we were nine, the only thing Messi about us was our bedroom. Things are a bit different for Zak Gilsenan from Castleknock, who has just put pen to paper with Barcelona.
Do you remember a few months back we brought you the news that Mayo youngster John Joe Patrick Finn had signed for Real Madrid? Well now we are set for an all-Irish Clasico as Real’s arch-rivals Barcelona have signed a young fella from Dublin, according to the Irish Sun.
At nine years of age, Zak Gilsenan is one year older than John Joe, and a bit like the Real protégée, he too was discovered away from these shores.
Zak's father Stephen works in mining in Australia and it was there that Zak caught the eye of Tottenham Hotspur. But before he could be shipped off to London, an unnamed ex-Barca player spotted Zak’s skills at an Aussie soccer camp, alerted the boys in Catalonia and before you could say tika-taka, Zak was the newest Barca recruit.
Zak’s performance in the final trial match probably helped too, when he notched seven goals. He will now join FCBEscola, the same academy that produced the current crop of Barca stars, including one Lionel Messi.
Zak’s family are now all moving to Barcelona to give the youngster the best possible chance of success. 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.