7-Year-Old Soccer Prodigy Signs Contract With Real Madrid
Photo: Feng Li/Getty Images
Members of Real Madrid (in white) play a pre-season match against Tianjin Teda.
Earlier this week, Leonel Angel Coira signed a contract with the soccer club Real Madrid for one year. In normal circumstances, this wouldn't be newsworthy, especially internationally. But the real kicker (ha!) to this story is that Coira is only 7 years old.
Coira won't be playing on the adult, professional league, however. His deal puts him on the developmental team, which will begin practice in September. ESPN reports that Coira was first spotted by talent scouts from both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid while playing for a youth team his father coached, but Real Madrid won out.
I'm still not entirely sure why this is so newsworthy, though. Yes, he's only 7, but ESPN goes on to say that almost every professional soccer club has a youth division that signs youngsters up in the hopes of developing them into amazing talent one day. I guess the draw could be that he's reportedly the youngest player to be signed by Real Madrid, although there's some dispute about that.
And he's certainly not alone in showing great talent at a young age. Wayne Gretzky was a phenom on the ice hanging with 10-year-olds before he turned 7. Martina Hingis played in her first tennis tournament at only 4 years old, and continued breaking records throughout her career. And back in 2007, 9-year-old Rhain Davis showed his skills with a soccer ball and was signed to England's Manchester United.
But these are exceptions in the sports world. It's fairly uncommon for the prodigies to eventually succeed at the level of a Tiger Woods or Pelé. Most will either continue to play under the radar at best or completely fall out of favor at worst. It's a lot of pressure for a 7-year-old to handle. I suppose you could also argue that if you don't take big risks, you don't get big rewards. Only time will tell if Coira can live up to the hype of his soccer skills as he goes through puberty and into adulthood.
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