WANGARATTA junior Seb Pasquali will head to England later in the year to play in Fulham’s academy team.
The Red Devils star, 13, returned from a trial with the EPL club two weeks ago after a two-week stint with international heavyweight Chelsea earlier this year.
But Fulham selected him as a player they wanted to test in academy competition after Pasquali was a standout in trials that included players from across Europe and the US.
Father Tony Pasquali, a 300-game champion and coach of Wangaratta Rovers, said it was an opportunity too good to knock back.
“He was picked up by one of their scouts at the national championships and it has all gone from there,” he said.
“Now he has passed the first stage and gone beyond a trial — he has been identified as a player they want to see more of.
“They have academy sides from nine to 21 but where you play is not always based on age.
“Seb played against older kids in the trials and if they think it is better for his development then he could play up again.”
Outgoing Red Devils coach and keeper Jon Shaw said he was struck by the teen’s talent when he arrived at the club.
“I came down in 2010 and asked if someone could kick a few at goals as a bit of a warm-up,” he said.
“And so this young kid started hitting the ball from 20-metres out and putting it in the top corner of the net.
“Seb has something that you can’t coach — a skill with the ball and in reading the play that is well beyond his years.
“I’ve never seen a player at his age, in England or in Australia, with such talent.
“But he trains like crazy and never has a ball far from his foot.
“He trained with the seniors last year and but for his size would have played — he is technically the best player at the club.”
Pasquali senior said he was pleased to see country kids getting the chances that in the past have been the sole domain of the big cities.
“We already train twice a week in Melbourne with the National Training Centre under-16s and state team — and for the most part you are forced to travel,” he said.
“But this is an example of the big clubs looking beyond the cities, in the past they have been very metro-centric — hopefully this paves the way for others to follow in Seb’s footsteps.”