10-year-old Irish footballer gets 2-year extension at Barcelona

Here’s Zak Gilsenan celebrating the good news with Neymar at his lavish unveiling.

Neymar performs some tricks while Zak Gilsenan looks on.
Neymar performs some tricks while Zak Gilsenan looks on.

AMID ALL THE fanfare of Neymar’s unveiling at the Camp Nou last month, another signing slipped under the radar.

10-year-old Zak Gilsenan from Castleknock has been signed on by the Spanish champions for another two years. The young Dubliner, who was spotted while playing for the Perth Glory youth team in Australia, has impressed his coaches sufficiently in the past year to be kept on at the Catalan club’s La Masia football academy.

The academy, which goes under the official name of FCBEscola, chose Gilsenan from 400 hopefuls last June. He scored seven goals in the final trial game to confirm his spot at the famous academy that has produced players such as Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Lionel Messi.

Gilsenan’s father, Stephen, has kept in touch with his former coaches in Perth, including community and development manager, Callum Salmon. “Whilst Zak’s technical ability was very special,” Sammon commented, “it was his character overall which was most impressive. His attitude, enthusiasm and hard work were outstanding.”

During his first year at La Masia, Gilsenan has been used in three different roles, striker, right midfield and right back. His season finished with the notable honour of captaining the young Barca side against a host of international teams held near the Spanish border with France.

The Barcelonistas won all six matches to capture the tournament and did not concede a goal.

Gavin Cooney
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