Very few footballers are privileged enough to be compared to Lionel Messi, but 12-year-old Mathew Addae is not just being compared to the Barcelona star, he is actually living up to the billing.
A touch of Messi: The magic and artistry of 12-year-old Mathew Addae
Mathew Addae is just 12, but his left foot simply delivers magic and artistry, writes Pulse Sports’ Emmanuel Ayamga.
Dubbed the ‘Black Messi’, the young playmaker produced several magical performances during the just ended Zone 3 of the 2019 Milo U-13 Champions League. The youngster was the main man as Talent Bridge Academy finished the competition as runners-up.
The 12-year-old was at the forefront of everything his side did: he dictated play, set up his teammates and still managed to chip in with a couple of goals.
It was, therefore, not surprising that he emerged player of the tournament, despite missing a crucial penalty in the final against eventual zonal champions Myohang Forces.
“This boy is phenomenal. I have observed his development for some time and there is no doubt that he is technically gifted,” says Nene MccPeter, who is coach of Talent Bridge Academy. “He’s grown and improved in all areas so I’m not surprised that he’s emerged best player.”
Like Messi, Addae is not one who waits to be fed with the ball. Rather, he drops deep, avails himself and involves himself in every move. He boasts a magical left foot, a deft touch and an athleticism which makes it very difficult for him to be dispossessed off the ball.
He is also a very good passer of the ball.
“There is a reason why they call him the ‘Black Messi’. His performance may be new to you, but he’s been doing this consistently and people know it,” Coach MccPeter proclaims.
Just like his coach, Addae is very confident in his own abilities. The youngster believes he’s destined for greatness and admits winning the best player award didn’t was least surprising.
“I feel very good winning the best player award. I actually expected it due to the amount of work I put in before this tournament,” Addae told Pulse Ghana.
Talent Bridge is a professionally run academy with affiliations to Ghanaian Division 2 side Cheetah FC. The kids, therefore, benefit from the best of facilities as they are camped in the same building with their senior counterparts.
“It’s difficult training with the senior players at Cheetah FC,” says Addae, who insists such routines have help him and his teammates adapt to different styles of play.
“Our school is an academy with the boys’ resident there,” Coach MccPeter explains. “These boys are fed and camped. They do what we call boots and books, because we understand that these days you cannot project your career without education.
“So what we have done at Talent Bridge Academy is to marry the two to ensure that the boys are given the necessary training in school and on the field.”
Addae himself is very much aware of how important education is. Although he admits combining school and training has been tough, the 12-year-old is still keen to achieve both.
“Combining education and school has been tough but it’s all good,” the youngster confesses. “We normally train in the morning, then when it’s 8am we go to school. At 3pm we return to training again.
“But sometimes I train on my own. On such days I arrive at training before my colleagues; I train an hour before the rest of the team arrives.”
Indeed, one thing about the 12-year-old that impresses his coach is his seriousness towards school.
“The boy is a wonderful talent. There are some boys who only want to play football, so they neglect education. But Addae is different. He juggles sports and education and that’s impressive about him,” says Coach MccPeter.
“He learns hard and he works hard in class as much as he plays his football. In fact, right after class he always has the ball. Even after training, you’d see this boy with a ball training on his own. He just loves football.”
Ghana and Newcastle United winger Christian Atsu was once a product of Cheetah FC, and Coach MccPeter believes Addae can follow in his footsteps and become a national star.
“Some say that when kids like him grown, they begin to forget their football, but the thing is that we have monitored players like Christian Atsu and they come up to become big stars. So it’s the right environment for Addae to develop.
“With the environment he’s working in, this boy is going to be a huge talent for this country,” Coach MccPeter adds.
The ‘Black Messi’ is already emulating his idol, who he described as an “amazing dribbler.”
On his plans for the future, Addae says he aims to play for Ghana Premier League giants Asante Kotoko, with the bigger goal being a contract with Spanish side Barcelona.
“In future, I’d like to play for Barcelona, but locally I prefer Asante Kotoko to Hearts of Oak.”
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