Leonel Angel Coira, 7yr old prodigy signed By Real Madrid
How young is too young? How old is too old?
Is 7 the new 70, or vice-versa? Leonel Angel Coira signed with the Spanish club and will begin training Sept. 6, Madrid spokesman Juan Tapiador told The Associated Press on Monday. Is this too young?
Too young? Too old? These are the questions bouncing around the soccer world after two news reports at opposite ends of the age spectrum. In Spain, powerhouse Real Madrid has announced the signing of seven-year-old Leonel Angel Coira, a reputed prodigy from Argentina who has been living in Madrid with his father for the past three years. Coira, who goes by the nickname “Leo” like his hero and fellow Argentinean Lionel Messi, was picked up by Real Madrid after cross-town rival Atletico Madrid had shown interest in the boy.
Clearly Real did not want to lose out on the possibility of matching arch-rival Barcelona with a golden boy from Argentina, even though Coira has several years to go before reaching the age that Messi was when he signed. According to the boy’s father Miguel Coira, who coaches a team in a Madrid suburb, Leonel tried out with both Real and Atletico but felt more comfortable with Real.
Currently the young star-in-training will receive no salary and will be on a one-year renewable contract. It will be very interesting to see what happens when he begins training with the children’s team on September 6. We do know that the interest in this young boy has already resulted in multiple Facebook pages and postings.
At the opposite end of the age range is the news that 70-year-old Brazilian legend Pelé could come out of playing retirement for one last hurrah. The man many consider the greatest player ever would be on the pitch in Japan with the Brazilian club Santos for the FIFA Club World Cup. “I don’t doubt anything,” Santos’ marketing director Armeio Neto said in a statement. “It also depends on the coach. If Pele is a boost to the team, then why not?” Club president Luis Alvaro Ribeiro also seems open to the idea, if his team manager Muricy Ramalho feels Pelé would be a positive addition to the team.
A positive addition to the team, or to the team’s marketing? According to a number of pundits and bloggers, the “why not” would seem obvious and the possibility of Pelé being a positive addition on the field seems small. Andres Ehrli, a featured columnist with the website BleacherReport.com, not only questions the idea of putting Pelé on the field, even to take a penalty shot near the end of a game, but feels it would be detrimental to the credibility of the Club World Cup and an insult to the opposing team. “If I were Barcelona (or any of Santos' rivals, for that matter),” said Ehrli in his August 4 post, “I'd be downright offended if the opposing team were fielding old men against me. Regardless of whether they're named Pelé or not.”
So again the questions – too young/too old? Do we push seven-year-old kids into the spotlight before they are mature enough to handle it, even if they are the second coming of Lionel Messi?
Fun Fact: Barcelona signed Messi when he was a young soccer player at the Argentine club Newell's Old Boys. If Messi was signed as a young teenager, and obviously went on to earn the World Player of the Year award twice, perhaps soccer talent can be seen early on. Every team would like to discover a Messi who could help their team win 15 trophies, including three Champions League titles and five Spanish league championships.
Do we allow a septuagenarian who hasn’t played for over three decades back on the pitch because it might bump up the viewing audience for a tournament that is less well-known than the FIFA World Cup?
Are we in danger of losing what is important in this game in the name of revenue and ratings? Hopefully there will not be unpleasant results from either of these “experiments.”