The Spanish Soccer Schools Under-12s have been crowned champions of their division in the prestigious Nicosia International Cup in Cyprus.
Having progressed from the semis via a thrilling penalty shootout, the youngsters worked hard in the final to triumph in a well-deserved 3-1 win.
Held in the Cypriot capital, the tournament features several prestigious youth football teams and academies, including Greek outfits AEK Athens and Olympiakos Piraeus, Serbian side Red Star Belgrade, Italian youth team Spazio FC and the Arsenal Soccer Schools.
With the tournament running from the 27th to the 31st of December, Spanish Soccer Schools sent in two representative teams. While one team did triumph in the final, the other finished fifth in the overall standings.
Dubai Sports City Football Academy Director Michel Salgado was overjoyed with the progress his team had made. “Obviously, the kids are very excited about this international tournament, it is massive for them,” he said. “It is a great experience, not only for the kids, but for our academy, so they are really thrilled to come here.
“Spanish Soccer Schools is about paying back what football gave to me,” added the Real Madrid legend. “This is just the start, and when I was a kid, I wished I had that kind of support or that kind of academy where a former player could help me all the way.
“We are doing really well in Dubai,” he continued. “The kids are enjoying it, and after two years of working with them, we are making a step forward, we are going for international tournaments. It is a big step for us, this tournament in Cyprus with exciting teams.
“I’ve got a special emotion on arriving here because I made my debut with the National Team of Spain here,” revealed the former right-back. “We thought that this was the perfect tournament for our kids.”
But the accolades didn’t end there: James Aubrey was awarded the Golden Boot as finished the tournament as top scorer, while Miguel Salgado was voted Best Player of the Tournament in his age group.
This is of course not the first time that the Spanish Soccer Schools have impressed while overseas: earlier this year, they went toe-to-toe with some of the best youth teams in the world at the Ciudad Vilagarcia Youth Cup held in Arosa, Spain, over the summer.
In addition, in March of 2015, the youngsters distinguished themselves at the Palencia Cup, with Rune Schrader being named the Best Player of the Tournament in the Under-12 category.
Miguel and Rune would subsequently go on to represent Spanish Primera Liga outfit Celta Vigo in a youth tournament over the summer, where they were named the best players of the Under-10 and Under-12 divisions respectively.
Since its inception in 2013, Spanish Soccer Schools has trained over 4000 players at its facilities in Dubai. The programme also won the Best Youth Development Project at the 2015 Sport360 Sports Industry Awards.