Off to the big leagues: Elijah Tracanelli will soon leave Australian shores in search of soccer’s Holy Grail – a permanent place in an English junior development squad.
Leongatha youngster bound for West Ham and Wembley
By Liam Charles
SOUTH Gippsland may soon be able to add a soccer star to its list of world-beating athletes, with Elijah Tracanelli, steadily rising through the ranks.
The talented 15-year old is headed for the mother country, after being selected for the West Ham junior development squad, a stepping-stone to the English Premier League.
In December he will run out onto football’s cathedral, Wembley Stadium, wearing the same maroon jersey as Bobby Moore and Trevor Brooking before him.
However, he may have to put aside his love of Everton, as he goes head to head with England’s best junior squads.
“We play against a number of other academies, including the Wolves, Birmingham and Liverpool,” Elijah noted.
The wiry Mary MacKillop College student first pulled on the boots for the Leongatha Knights, but owing to his silky skills with the round ball, he quickly moved on to bigger and better things, becoming one of the youngest players in the under 20s for Collingwood City.
“There are some big boys in the Under 20s, but I try to use my speed, to leave them in the dust,” he told the Sentinel-Times.
It was Australia’s remarkable campaign during the 2006 World Cup, which first captured the teenager’s attention.
From there he was hooked, his room now resembling a shrine to the world game, decked out with soccer balls, posters and jerseys.
Elijah’s studies became a second priority during this year’s World Cup, as the young man stayed up hoping to catch a glimpse of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
“I missed out on a lot of sleep,” Elijah joked.
According to Elijah’s mother, Myleisha, she lost control of the family house during the month-long event.
“He took over the whole lounge room. People who loved football would call in at two in the morning,” she said.
Before Elijah heads off to test his skills against the world’s best, he will join a number of other young Australian prodigies on a training camp in the city of surf.
“In September, Elijah heads to the West Ham oceanic camp on the Gold Coast, then in December to the United Kingdom for his two week tour with West Ham,” his mother smiled proudly.
When he arrives back in Australia he will join the FC11 Soccer Academy at the University of Melbourne, where he will study for a Diploma of Football as well as undergo a period of rigorous training.
“At the academy he will have dietician, four trainers and a physiotherapist, so it’s all getting quite serious,” Elijah’s mother said.
“He is the youngest individual ever to join the prestigious academy.”
While he would like to be picked up by a scout in England, Elijah also hopes to one day represent the green and gold.
However, he is a little pessimistic about the Socceroos chances over the next decade.
“It could be a while,” he shook his head.
His mother thinks these chances might change if they ever take on a star recruit from Leongatha.