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A Belgian club once signed a 20-month-old boy to their academy, he's the youngest pro footballer ever

Daniel Marland

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A Belgian club once signed a 20-month-old boy to their academy, he's the youngest pro footballer ever

Back in 2013, Belgian club FC Racing Boxberg signed 20-month-old Bryce Brites to a contract and made him the youngest professional footballer in the world.

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Recruitment is important to any football club and getting it right at youth level can bring success down the line.

We've seen a number of elite players go from academy starlets to world class talents, but none started as young as Brites.

The Genk-born youngster was given a long-term deal to play with Boxberg's under-fives despite not being able to say 'football' or 'ball'. You can check out footage of his unveiling below. Yes, he had an unveiling.

To the untrained eye, Brites looks like a young lad who enjoys kicking a football about. Boxberg's coach saw something special though.

He said at the time in quotes carried by Metro: "The way Bryce kicks the ball: you do not see that very often.

"His ball control is incredible for somebody of his age."

It's currently unknown what Brites is up to, but he is still only 10-years-old. You wouldn't bet against seeing his name pop up down the line.

Belgium has become a hotbed of talent in the last decade of so and they've rocked up to every international tournament boasting insane depth.

Among the names currently playing are Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku among others.

Many believe that crop of players are Belgium's very own 'Golden Generation', similar to the England side of the early 2000's.

Image Credit: Alamy
Image Credit: Alamy

This year's World Cup in Qatar is likely their final shot at glory and manager Roberto Martinez backs his side to make a huge impact.

Belgium were top of FIFA's rankings back when the World Cup draw was made in April and Martinez said it couldn't be focused on.

He explained: "There are two ways of measuring the national team: there is tournament football and there is the consistency of that level to win games, qualification campaigns, and it is almost an objective that allows you to qualify for good tournaments.

"To be number one for four years is a tremendous achievement when you look at the size of the nation, and only two national teams – Brazil and Spain – have had a longer period.

"But now it is not an objective. It would be very irresponsible to concentrate on that. We’ve got bigger goals, which is developing the squad and trying to work and get us as prepared as we can for the World Cup."

Belgium are in Group F alongside Canada, Croatia and Morocco.

Featured Image Credit: DailyMotion

Topics: Belgium

Daniel Marland
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