A Graeme High school pupil is mulling over his future after grabbing the opportunity to play with Atletico Madrid with both hands.
As The Falkirk Herald, and sister paper the Cumbernauld News have revealed over the past fortnight, (here and here) 12-year-old Joshua Rae was offered a trial with the La Liga giants after a bizarre series of good fortune including a goal from his own half, a holiday in Benidorm and a depleted football team from the Middle East.
The towering goalkeeper has spent a fortnight in the Spanish capital training and returned home this week - armed with an offer to return to the Vicente Calderon full-time.
But the boy from Croy is keen to stay put for the time being, rather than follow in the footsteps of another Scottish youngster - Jack Harper - who plays for Atletico’s city rivals Real.
“I don’t really know what to do right now but don’t want to go right away, I want to stay in Scotland another year.”
The experience he gained though, was “brilliant”.
“I was training with Atletico Madrid ‘B’ youth team but it only lasted 20 minutes until I was moved across to the pitch where the ‘A’ team was training. It included a player I was told is the highest-regarded youth player in the whole of Spain. “My dad and I were also given tickets to Atletico Madrid’s 4-2 win against Almeria, it was amazing and we were just a few rows away from the club president.”
All the while Josh was corresponding with his friends back at Graeme High school via Facebook. They, in turn, were relaying his progress to the school’s SFA performance coach Ian Ross who met up with the goalkeeping prodigy on his return to school yesterday. The chance, he has told The Falkirk Herald, was “deserved for all his hard work”.
And Josh added: “All my friends at school were happy for me. I have really improved since going to Graeme High and Ian Ross and the coaching has helped a lot. Training each day has improved my game too. I never expected this when I was kicking a ball about in Benidorm.”
That series of events started with the holiday kickabout where Josh was asked to help out a touring team from Jordan who were missing a player. Atletico Madrid’s youth coaches spotted him and invited him to play when the Spanish youth side were in Glasgow for a tournament. Again, he impressed - including a goal from his own goal-line - and was invited for the recent fortnight’s training which has led to the return offer and conundrum for the family.
Mum Natalie said: “As a family we are thinking about this very carefully. We want Josh to finish out the season at Hamilton as he is under contract but that is for Atletico and Hamilton to discuss.
“We don’t know what to do at the moment. This is such a big thing to ask a 12-year-old to move to another country. We’re not rushing into it.”