Nineteen-year-old Abdeen Abdul from Navan, Co. Meath, was chosen as the winner of Life Style Sports’ ‘The Dream’, a nationwide search for undiscovered young Irish football talent, and will take up a once in a lifetime chance to trial for the acclaimed Nike Academy in London.
‘The Dream’ is an exciting partnership with Nike Football and saw 50 young hopefuls attend the event at Carton House from over 150 quality football CV’s sent in.
‘The Dream‘ saw talent compete in local trials to win the chance to tog out at the Nike Academy over in London. The unique opportunity is exclusive to Life Style Sports in Ireland and is the first of its kind to be offered to any retailer worldwide.
After a full day of trials at the Co. Kildare venue, which included training from the Nike coaches, Abdeen was chosen from a group of over 50 talented teens from all around Ireland. The youngster started playing football at aged 10 for local club Johnstown FC. After playing schoolboy football, he joined Park Villa FC in Navan and cites himself as an established midfield player who regularly starts for this local team.
Abdeen was a stand out from the beginning for the coaching team which included; Wolverhampton Wanderers lead coach Mick Halsall, Former Ireland international Kenny Cunningham, St. Patrick’s Athletic goalkeepers Rene Gilmartin, UEFA Coach Des Davis and ex Wolves Coach Steve Weaver.
“I’m feeling great”, said Abdeen. “I never expected to win this as there were so many top players here today. I really wanted to come here and make my parents proud, so I can’t wait to tell them I’ve won! My friend told me about this opportunity as he saw it in Life Style Sports, and I did feel that I had what it takes to go for it. I am a striker and my favourite player is Thierry Henry. It was an absolutely amazing day and I can’t wait to get over to England!”
Debbie Byrne, Marketing Director for Life Style Sports said: “We were looking for the best of youth based football talent in Ireland and the coaches from the Nike Football Academy have definitely picked the best in Abdeen, we are delighted for him.” Football is hugely important to our business at Life Style Sports – we are delighted to have worked with Nike on this special talent search and to support and showcase what young Irish footballers have to offer.”
Over 30% of young players who train with Nike Academy go on to secure professional contracts with top international clubs. In the past three seasons alone, twenty ambitious and talented players who attended the Academy have turned professional with high profile clubs, including Celtic FC star Tim Rogic.
Former Ireland International and Nike Coach Kenny Cunningham said yesterday, “As a coach, today was really enjoyable for me. The attitude of these young players was absolutely fantastic. They have shown their commitment by traveling from all over Ireland, mingled well together, and played as teams throughout the day, which was great to see. There can only be one winner, and it wasn’t an easy decision. Abdeen stood out from the start as a diverse footballer with great skill playing in all of the forward positions, as well as being established within midfield.”
“There were a lot of players came extremely close to him and they can all be proud of their efforts today. I do believe that there will be other opportunities in the future for some of the others that tried out today, and I will definitely be following up to see what paths they take.”