Introducing My Football Journey – tracking seven young stars on the path to the 2026 World Cup

Welcome to My Football Journey. athletic follows seven young players from all over the world who are looking for success in the game.

With the highest ratings in each country, teens identified for us with the help of scouts who work for Football Manager, as they aim to establish themselves in the world , share the ups and downs of young careers. We are working towards the game and possibly the Holy Grail of the 2026 World Cup in the US, Canada and Mexico.

From now through the summer of 2026, you’ll hear from all seven players on a regular basis, with interviews on the app and guest appearances on podcasts and social media channels. Finally, we will showcase their journey on our YouTube channel.

The series kicks off today and introductory interviews with each player will be published next week. We hope to give you a real insight into the reality of trying to enter the game in different locations in the world.

Here are young people who want to make their dreams come true.

“Kaka” Shipumba’s break

Born in Philippi, Western Cape, Sihumba will make history in May 2021 when he becomes the youngest player to take part in the Dischi Rewired competition, widely regarded as South Africa’s most popular step from youth football to the top level. left his name on

In June 2022, he became the first South African to sign with entertainment agency Roc Nation, which also has Kevin De Bruyne. In September he was named one of the world’s best players born in 2005 by the Guardian newspaper.

“I played soccer in my house. I was kicking plates,” he says in his opening interview. I played with my friends on the street I fought whenever I lost Now I know it was wrong

“My father (who passed away last year) lights me up. He has supported me in every team I have played for. He took me to trials in his car.Sometimes he didn’t have petrol so he gave me money to catch a taxi to go to training.Although he’s not alive anymore , supports me.

“Football is my passion and it continues to push me along with my family. They are what keeps me going. I’ve been making sacrifices since I was young.”

Devine was a Liverpool academy player. He was released when he was 11 years old and four months later he joined Wigan Athletic.

After making a good impression on players under the age of 23, he was sold to Tottenham Hotspur for £300,000 in July 2020 when the club entered management.

Jose Mourinho gave Alfie his senior debut for Spurs in January 2021 against Marines in the third round of the FA Cup. He scored within minutes.

“Everybody’s dream is to be a Premier League player and that’s what I’m looking forward to now.

“Every time I look back at a Marine goal, it still feels a little weird. The week that followed was incredible. I admit.

“I was in seventh grade when I was released by Liverpool. Why aren’t you in Liverpool anymore?” I didn’t want to go to school. I don’t want to say I was released. But that’s not really a bad thing and many top pros are released from clubs at a young age. ”

Kang Sung Jin

Kang made his K-League debut in March 2021 in Seoul. He played for his U17s and U20s in South Korea before being included in the South Korean national team at the 2022 East Asian Football Championships, where he scored twice against Hong Kong. first start.

“It was my dream to represent my country,” he says. “In the second game, I was very focused and I didn’t feel like I had scored for the Korean national team. I scored a goal for my country!” I was very happy “

“I played soccer in the yard with my father. He taught me kick-ups. That’s my first memory.”

“I like Neymar’s attitude towards the game. He always tries to win the game. increase.

“Salah is left-handed just like me. When I watch him, there are similar steps he takes. I want to learn from him and beat him with the same skill.”

iron aegetic naz

Born in Istanbul, Demir is a talented central midfielder who plays regularly in Besiktas’ under-19 domestic league and the UEFA Youth League, often seen as a gateway to the top teams of Europe’s top clubs. His composure on the ball and his ability to select passes to his third in the final set him apart.

This despite the setback of breaking his hip when he was 16. I haven’t been able to play soccer for six or seven months. But then I really started to raise my level and my potential.

“I never gave up, I worked harder than ever and it really made me grow. That injury changed me — it made me more mature.”

Adrian Seghesic

Segesic started his youth career with Parramatta before joining Sydney in 2016. The attacking midfielder impressed for his second team in Sydney, where he scored 14 goals in 29 league appearances. He made his first-team debut in 2021 and scored in his third appearance. Segesic has also earned a cap for his U-20 national team in Australia.

“I always expect a lot from myself,” he said in an interview at the beginning of the series. I always had expectations of being the best player, scoring the most goals, and I was always hard on myself when I messed up a little pass or something.

“There are a lot of big competitions like the U-20 World Cup[next year in Indonesia]and I can gain a lot more experience before the next (senior) World Cup in 2026. I want to play abroad, maybe in the UK, I already have a work permit, hopefully I can play in the Premier League and be ready for the World Cup. By then, it will be my biggest dream.”

Bikash Yamnam

Bikash is an Indian professional footballer who plays as a defender for Round Grass Punjab, India’s second division league. He was included in the Guardians list of his 60 footballers for the next generation in 2020 and made his professional debut on loan with the Indians in February 2020 with his Arrows. He was part of India’s squad that reached the quarter-finals of the 2018 AFC U-16. Championship in Malaysia.

“The first World Cup memory I have is the final between Spain and Holland in 2010,” he says. “Andrés Iniesta scored that great goal. My family loves to watch football, so everyone wanted to see the game.

“I used to support Manchester United when I was younger. I saw Cristiano Ronaldo, everyone loves to see him. Now I support Liverpool. We play as a team.Especially Virgil van Dijk is my idol.I learn a lot from him.I watch a lot of his videos when I go to practice but he leads everything from behind. He’s a guy who can help you. He’s calm and cool.”

Marshal Salvador

Torreon-born Mariscal is a defensive midfielder who plays club football for Liga MX team Santos Laguna. He has caught the attention of his under-20 players at the club and has also represented the national team at the same level.

“Lionel Messi, he has always been my hero. I was.

“Edson Alvarez[who plays for Ajax and Mexico]is my example. I see myself in him. I’ve been watching his videos to know more about how he plays.In Europe, I like to watch Kevin De Bruyne.He has a vision of wanting to see a pass.Everything he plays. I watch matches on TV and YouTube and also Sergio Busquets, I try to copy him as much as possible to improve.

(Image: Eamon Dalton)

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