A nine-year-old soccer prodigy is heading to Europe next month to build his skills and perhaps follow in the footsteps of superstar Lionel Messi.
Jayden Becker is a fourth-grader at Nord Middle School and has played in the Amherst Youth Soccer Association the past four years.
He’ll depart Nov. 16 on a 10-day trip to Spain for the FC Barcelona Clinic, where Becker said he’s excited to “play with the big kids.”
He earned an invitation during an FC Barcelona camp in North Olmsted, which he attended with younger brother Landon.
Parents Ed and Brittany Becker said they were shocked to get the invite but hope the trip will open doors for Jayden within the soccer world.
The young star plays for the Charge right now but has higher aspirations. He aims to play for the Comets in high school like older brother Austin has — and one day maybe even make the Team USA roster.
“Ever since he was born, he was kicking a ball, wanted to be just like his older brother,” said Jayden’s father.
From the moment he first stepped on the field, Jayden has run circles around other players, said his proud parents. Though he was the youngest player on the team, the coach had to pull him to give others a chance at the ball.
“The coach couldn’t stop his shots. It was obvious he knew the skills more than the kids who were coming in, which was phenomenal,” Ed said.
“We knew from then, he’s got something special.”
In Spain, Jayden will get to train at FC Barcelona’s headquarters, on the same fields that have yielded talents such as Messi, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta.
He’ll walk into the club’s 100,000-seat stadium, attend La Liga professional games, play soccer on the beach, visit an amusement park, and see some of the country’s important historical sites.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.