The culmination of an incredible summer, Britain's Jose Figura joined 15 of the best untapped young players in the world as winners of Nike's The Chance. The final 16 will now experience the ultimate training tour, visiting some of the best federations, clubs and facilities in the world - with one Nike Academy contract at stake.
Following an intense semi-final on Saturday, the final 26 players were asked to pick themselves up again for the final game at Barcelona's incredible reserve team stadium, Mini Estadi, with the Nike Elite Scouts and coaching team watching closely. The match played in three sets of 30 minutes offered the talented youngsters their final chance to impress and book a place in the finals squad.
Refereed by Howard Webb, the highly rated English ref was impressed by the final 26 “The quality of the performances were high and I hope to meet some of these players again in a few years when they are playing in the professional game. All of the Final 26 players, although under pressure to have a good game and playing with passion and determination, were disciplined out there and that is an important characteristic required if young footballers want to make it at the highest level.”
The final 16 will embark on a tour of the world's best training facilities with a Nike Academy contract to be won. The boys will train at and play against some of the most renowned youth set-ups in global football, including Manchester United, Juventus and the US Soccer Federation. Under the watchful eye of club coaches and elite scouts.
Head of the Nike Academy Jimmy Gilligan, who has watched the competition unfold offered “To the winners, I say a massive well done,” continuing “Out of 100,000 footballers who entered The Chance they are the top 16 and I am looking forward to working with each of them. They should enjoy the moment but there is still a lot of work to be done. We will be taking them on an incredible trip to play some of the best youth teams in the world.”
Jose Figura will be joined on the tour of world class training facilities by Spain's Gonzalo Balbi who said of his journey “I can’t put into words what being here and being selected means to me. I have just tried to give everything I have to The Chance. I am so happy.”
Congratulations to the Final 16 winners below.
32 Dimitris Komnos, Greece
8 Wallace Camilo, Brazil
27 David Fernandes, France
83 Bubakary Sonko, Sweden
77 Melusi Zulu, South Africa
72 Petar Golubovic, Serbia
79 Gonzalo Balbi, Spain
100 Brian Iloski, United States
92 Jose Figura, United Kingdon
7 Dario Van Den Buijs, Belgium
76 Teboho Charlie Tsotetsi, South Africa
41 Ryosuke Kinoshita, Japan
68 Kirill Laptev, Russia
78 Saifeddine Alami Bazza, Spain
6 Ismail H’Maidat, Belgium
39 Marco Di Lauro, Italy