Major Soccer/Football Prospect
January 27, 2005 6:42 PM   Subscribe

Sports Illustrated explains seven or eight professional soccer/football teams, including highly regarded Manchester United and FC Porto, are interested in "a phenomenon, probably the best player to come out of Brazil" : Jean Carlos Chera, nine years old and 4' 6". A video (additional source) [wmv format, 8MB] demonstrates Jean's abilities.
posted by quam (46 comments total)
that's going to ruin him--i hope they back off and let him just be a kid.
posted by amberglow at 7:11 PM on January 27, 2005

Yay! Let's take this little kid from Brazil and make him into a god-child for our diversion. Now he belongs to the world!
posted by Hildago at 7:20 PM on January 27, 2005

Annoying hand-held video clip of the week.
posted by neuron at 7:21 PM on January 27, 2005

I wonder which Spice Girl he's going to date first.
posted by Arch Stanton at 7:22 PM on January 27, 2005

But you have to remember, he's playing against nine year olds. Even I would look good against nine year olds.*

*Actually, no I wouldn't.
posted by sugarfish at 7:53 PM on January 27, 2005

OK, pro sports have officially jumped the shark.

Who's up for some tiddlywinks?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:54 PM on January 27, 2005

No, that kid's a phenomenon, and it's pretty easy to recognize if you know the game. That being said, all that attention would be brutal for "normal" childhood development. But he's not normal, and the momentum of greatness cannot be stopped so easily.
posted by brheavy at 8:12 PM on January 27, 2005

Holy. Shit. !
posted by Doohickie at 8:15 PM on January 27, 2005

Wow, yeah the kid can play.

Freddy Adu isn't much older, and he had a promising first year in the pros last season...
posted by First Post at 8:20 PM on January 27, 2005

Any sport where you can be a phenom at age 9 is not a real sport.

--American Ass, baseball fan and soccer-liker
posted by cell divide at 8:26 PM on January 27, 2005

holy shit. i mean he is playing against 9 year olds, but even when I was playing varsity soccer in high school i'm sure he could have beaten our team. . . by himself.
posted by untuckedshirts at 8:41 PM on January 27, 2005

Wow. Just WOW. He is really talented. What a fun clip to watch. I feel for the loss of his boyhood.

Don't some Olympic gymnasts compete at/around his age?
posted by rxreed at 8:53 PM on January 27, 2005

What is a real sport?
posted by brheavy at 8:56 PM on January 27, 2005

Something to keep in mind is that the people that he's embarrassing out there are likely the other best 9 year olds in Brazil.
posted by Arch Stanton at 8:56 PM on January 27, 2005

What is a real sport?

I was just joking. But to answer your question, Baseball and Lacrosse, because those are the ones I'm good at.
posted by cell divide at 9:02 PM on January 27, 2005

cell divide: I would qualify them both as quality sports. Never did get into Lacrosse, but then I never played it either. It's interesting that in certain sports the scouts can identify the superstars at such a young age, while in others, the talent comes later.
posted by brheavy at 9:12 PM on January 27, 2005

He's not just playing against 9 year olds:

Jean began to attract attention after the club put videos with highlights of Jean's matches on its Web site. In the videos, Jean is seen scoring goals from midfield, dribbling past several defenders and playing among 13- and 14-year-olds.

One thing I don't get, the date on the tape is 2001 - wouldn't that make him 5 or 6? That I have trouble believing, that a 6 year old is scoring goals like that. He couldn't have the strength in his legs to strike from midfield. If it's real, this kid is amazing. If it's a hoax (as in just an all-star goal montage of different players), I hope he cashes in while he can.
posted by loquax at 9:28 PM on January 27, 2005

He's not playing against nine year olds - he's playing against 13 year olds.

I do wonder about this though. Seems like the trend in soccer is to identify younger and younger players (I remember being shocked at how young Adu was, but at least he _can_ play). But I think it's very far from certain that he'll grow up to be anything special. I can think of plenty of players who at 18 or 20 were expected to develop into "the best player in England" - and most of them didn't.
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:29 PM on January 27, 2005

(It was a joke)
posted by sugarfish at 9:48 PM on January 27, 2005

Yikes, his power and accuracy are awesome for a nine year old. The video is scary though... it sounds like they keep saying "Mess-ee-yah". Messiah? Can anyone actually translate? Because if it is "messiah", well, good luck kid...
posted by ontic at 9:48 PM on January 27, 2005

Wowee, that is pretty cool and a fun little video to watch. The music was a bit much at times but this kid was fun to watch.

Now all he's gotta do is start growing his hair out.....
posted by fenriq at 9:55 PM on January 27, 2005

Don't some Olympic gymnasts compete at/around his age?


"In 1996, the Olympic committee tried to reverse this trend by creating a sixteen-year-old age minimum. This year, the seven-member U.S. team is significantly older than the last one. Amy Chow and Dominique Dawes were in their twenties; the youngest, Elise Ray, is 17."

posted by mce at 9:55 PM on January 27, 2005

This kid is incredible. (His teammates aren't bad, either.)

Aren't kids at this age are often playing for major clubs, in their youth systems? Back when I was a camp counselor, I had a kid visiting all the way from Greece, dominating every soccer game we played. He was eleven, and one of the best in the Olympiakos system.

I feel bad for the kid. He won't know a life without insurmountable expectations until his thirties.
posted by sellout at 9:56 PM on January 27, 2005

To those that say "he's playing against 6 year olds or 9 year olds or 13 year olds or whatever", you have to understand that what is impressive is not so much the way he goes around defenders that will be better as he gets older, its the way he handles himself and the ball. To take a long pass in, settle, one touch up over the head of you and your defender, turn, slip around and settle the ball into a running stride...thats impressive. That particular move is one that doesn't depend on the defender. Sure a World Cup quality defender will see the ball come up and start moving back to try and disrupt the move instead of continuing to close in, but the fact of the matter is that it shows a phenomenal level of physical and mental control for any athelete....let alone a kid that's between 6 and 9.

Add in a nice hard chip shot from 30 yards out at age 9 and I'd say, yeah, this kid is pretty damn amazing. He seems to have control, discipline and power. A rare commodity in any person, let alone one as young as he.

The attention of the major clubs is certainly a double edged sword. It runs the great risk of completely screwing up his sense of proportion in the world. People telling him from a very early age that he will be a star, that he will be a multi-millionaire. But at the same time, if football is what he loves and he is truly gifted, then it represents the opportunity he needs, the venues to figure out how far he can take this particular ride.

If I had a child that I knew was world calibur genius and showed an incredible aptitude for science, I would try and make sure they got a well rounded social education, but I certainly wouldn't stop them from studying with the brightest, most successful scientists in the field either.

No easy answers in this debate.
posted by afflatus at 10:14 PM on January 27, 2005

Wasn't Gretzky was getting all sorts of attention at that age.

Wayne would devellop (sic) into a scoring machine by the time he was eight years old. However, by the time he was ten, the scrawny little kid named Gretzky would score an amazing 378 goals in 82 games!

He turned out to be pretty good.
posted by MotorNeuron at 10:34 PM on January 27, 2005

So is he better than Lebron? Than Tiger?
posted by rushmc at 11:34 PM on January 27, 2005

Yeah, holy shit.

Just from the video, you can tell that the kid's got two great legs and can strike with both. His ball control is amazing; it's better than mine and better than most if not all of the twenty-somethings I play with.

It's also difficult to understate how big the physical and mental differences between nine year old players and 13 year old players are. I assumed from the video that he was playing against kids his own age, but, damn.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:37 PM on January 27, 2005

Freaky kid, he made some beautiful shots there. Btw, I believe tennis players are scouted at a very young age as well. I saw a video once of six or seven year old Kim Clijsters (ex WTA n° 1), and damn, she was hitting that ball with power and accuracy that showed natural talent. You could tell she was going far. Same with this kid. If they don't ruin his Torinstinkt (he just smells where and how big that goal is!), he should be fine.
posted by NekulturnY at 1:13 AM on January 28, 2005

Wowzers. The way that clip plays out, I would totally buy if someone told me he was a 13 year old playing against a field of 9 year olds.
posted by juv3nal at 1:17 AM on January 28, 2005

I know it's not common in American sports, but it is not unusual for pro soccer clubs to be recruiting a 9-year-old. Soccer clubs in Europe run teams at all age levels. I myself have refereed a game between Oxford United and Crewe Alexandra U13s. In America , youth development is the preserve of the High Schools and Universities. In Europe, it's the responsibility of the clubs.
posted by salmacis at 1:57 AM on January 28, 2005

Kim Clijsters (ex WTA n° 1)

posted by jimmy at 2:55 AM on January 28, 2005

Screw "normal" childhood development. The kid wants to play football. Some team should hire him now and have him practice with the team. He would easily pay for himself with exhibitions before until he's old enough to play in league games.

Also, clone him now. Make about 500 of him. Then all these boys from Brazil... wait a second.
posted by pracowity at 3:00 AM on January 28, 2005

Kim Clijsters (ex WTA n° 1)

posted by jimmy at 2:55 AM PST on January 28

Was it something I said?
posted by NekulturnY at 3:57 AM on January 28, 2005

I don't know what the "o_o" hieroglyph means -- staring in surprise? -- but could it be because you said that a 7-year-old girl was formerly the top-ranked tennis player in the world? Or is Clijsters just one of those tennis girlies that everyone stares at?
posted by pracowity at 4:13 AM on January 28, 2005

Ah, no. She must be about 20 now (and down to WTA #80 or thereabouts because of a wrist injury), but I saw a scouting video from back when she was just a kid on a sports talkshow once. Amazing technique, focus and power.
posted by NekulturnY at 4:33 AM on January 28, 2005

I wonder if he's grown this good with great football as the objective, or great bags of cash.
Speaking for myself, I was only interested in small change, because that's all it took to go to the sweet shop.

but holy jackhammer, that's one right foot
posted by NinjaPirate at 6:40 AM on January 28, 2005

it's very impressive, but I still don't get it -- the tape is apparently from 2001.
posted by matteo at 6:44 AM on January 28, 2005

Well the time also read 2:05 A.M. in that clip, however it was daytime. I would just chalk it up to poor maintenance of the camcorder clock and date settings.
posted by brheavy at 7:05 AM on January 28, 2005

"Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports ... all others are games." -Ernest Hemingway
posted by Eamon at 7:17 AM on January 28, 2005

The real reason it's scary?

There's another 10 of these in brazil...
posted by dash_slot- at 7:41 AM on January 28, 2005

Holy freaking fuck. If he's born in 1995 like the tape states, then he's 6 for the most part of the clip, and 9 in the last sequences. Holy freaking fuck.

I imagine he could have a great career if he wants to (and by the looks of it, he likes the game...). I hope they don't put him through too much hassle as a kid. Several years in Palmeiras' or Flamengo's junior team is a good start, provided he and his family is taken care of economically. Then, when he's in his late teens he could go to Europe. If he wants too.
(Just don't put him in England. English football has it's certain charm, but you need a Spanish/Italian/Portuguese club to take care of a talent with these skills.)

But again. Holy freaking fuck.
posted by mr.marx at 10:55 AM on January 28, 2005

are taken care of
if he wants to

posted by mr.marx at 11:13 AM on January 28, 2005

The video includes numerous clips with timestamps of 2001, 2004, and many clips without timestamps.
posted by quam at 5:06 PM on January 28, 2005

The timestamps could be monged. Those clips are incredible.
posted by nthdegx at 4:52 AM on January 29, 2005

I watched a good deal of DC United this past year, Adu's rookie season. There were times when, despite his ball-handling abilities, he was so physically outmatched by opponents that he was easy to neutralize (the 15-turned 16 year old was 137 lbs last year). Nevertheless, DC went from worst to first and Adu did contribute to that success. What Freddie has now is ball skills, speed, and confidence; he'll add size and grow into his hype. This Jean Carlos kid certainly has skills and confidence, but overall it's hard to judge things like speed and physicality from the graininess of the video and the lack of information about the caliber of kids he's playing. After all, he's got game, but he might not have the top Champions League teams calling if he weren't nine (like that Little League World Series pitcher who was supposed to be 14, but wasn't.)
posted by machim at 3:24 PM on January 30, 2005

Kim Clijsters is 21 years old, but she was 20 during her season at the top (2003). She is currently ranked #48 after almost a year off the tour with a wrist injury.

Tennis is not the same as this; very very rarely will 14-year-olds play at the professional level. In Europe a lot of the current pros attended academies during their youth, but almost everyone went through the juniors, not straight to the top. It's not quite the same as being scouted by a professional football team.

I suppose the equivalent of this kid in the tennis world would be 15-year-old Donald Young, one of the youngest 'men' in recent memory to declare himself pro before 16.
posted by somethingotherthan at 7:12 PM on February 1, 2005

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