From Merrylands to Europe

ASAplayers to EuropeTHEY conquered the big guns of England and now players from the Australasian Soccer Academy, Merrylands, have their sights set on Portugal.

Not many teenagers get the chance to test themselves against the top academies in Europe.

But for the players at the western Sydney academy, simply competing with the likes of Manchester City wasn’t good enough — they had to prove a point.

“Everyone talks about Man City and they’re good, but we pumped them 8-2,” Liam Youlley, 15, said.

The centre midfielder was also one of the academy players who trained at the facilities of Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon.

The Portuguese club has produced talents such as Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United player Nani and former free kick specialist Luis Figo.

Youlley and fellow academy member and Merrylands local Anthony Frangie, have been invited back to Sporting Lisbon for further development next year.

It’s an opportunity that Frangie is determined to make the most of.

“It was a good experience playing at the best academy in the world. It feels like you have a chance to make it,” he said.

There were 20 players and three staff who took the European tour and head coach Tony Basha said a number of other players had impressed clubs throughout the six weeks.

One of them was teenager Alusine Fofanah, who was signed up to Manchester City’s youth squad.

“Alusine played a game for Burnely’s academy side and scored a hat-trick,” Basha said.

“After the game Manchester United and Tottenham were asking questions about him too.”

Basha had a warning for A-league clubs.

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