A diminutive 14-year-old from New York's Park Slope neighborhood has turned some heads in the US soccer community this week.
Noah Leeds and his family are set to relocate from Brooklyn to Seville, Spain, after Noah was offered a place in Sevilla FC's youth academy, a development originally reported by the New York Daily News.
“They really liked him. If we move to the region, they already know who he is,” Noah's father Jon told the Daily News. “He’s definitely on the top of the food chain there.”
Leeds was spotted by New York Red Bulls academy coaches at age 10 and most recently played on their Under-13 team from 2011-2012. Now he's making the leap across the Atlantic.
The opportunity – still a relatively rare one for North American youth players – to join one of Spain's most respected academies came about through an amazing combination of boldness and good fortune.
Jon, Noah, his mother Suzy and younger brother Zach traveled to Seville last month, visiting the club to request a tryout, but were rebuffed at first, with Sevilla officials informing them that Noah would have to be identified and invited by club scouts first.
But just before they were scheduled to leave the country and return home, a local restaurant manager spotted Noah juggling a ball as the family walked to dinner. Impressed with his skills, the restaurateur connected the Leeds family with a friend in Sevilla's scouting department and a tryout was arranged.
The trip was extended, Noah continued to shine and soon enough he was offered a longer-term stay. The entire family will relocate to southern Spain in a few months.
“We just decided we were going to do it,” Noah’s mother told the Daily News. “We’re at the transitional stage now. He’s going into high school. His younger brother, Zach, is going into middle school. So we just decided it was going to be now or never.”
According to the family, Sevilla's coaches have already told Noah, who plays in central midfield, that his potential is enormous, and suggested that he could grow into a national-team caliber player someday.
“They said if I keep working hard, I can make it,” Noah said. “I love soccer because if you work hard you can be great at it.”