American teenager Ben Lederman is the first US-born player invited to train at Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy.
The now-13-year old and his family arrived in Spain two years ago to undertake a spell of uncertainty in order to give their son every chance of making it to the very top of world football.
Ben’s parents Danny and Tammy, and older brother Dean, made the decision to pack up and leave their lives in Los Angeles for Ben to train with the Catalan club at the academy where the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta forged their glittering careers.
But Tammy suggests that it is not all glamour and easy-living in Barcelona as their non-visa status makes it difficult to bring in the money required to live comfortably.
“It’s brutal and you are constantly wondering if that is going to be us,” Tammy told the NY Times in regards to Ben being cut from the squad.
“We were close to not doing it. We were very, very close. People hear, ‘Soccer, Barcelona, Spain,’ and just assume it all works. But there is so much that goes into it.
“Even people close to us didn’t really understand what we were considering. We rented our house (in California). We left our families. We left our lives.”
But father Danny touched on the fact that seeing his son, who is performing more than admirably in training, enjoying what he is doing makes it worthwhile.
“I can’t describe his face,” Danny said. “As a parent, it was the kind of joy that just makes you incredibly happy.”
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