They may be at different ends of the football spectrum, but Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Pattison share a common trait – their careers were launched (or could be) by impressing against superior opposition.
Portugal icon Ronaldo has risen to become one of the leading players of his generation. But a spotlight was shone on him as a teenager when he left Manchester United defender John O’Shea feeling dizzy during a pre-season friendly against Sporting Lisbon in the summer of 2003.
United’s players were in awe and told boss Sir Alex Ferguson he had to sign the 17-year-old. Ronaldo was soon packing his bags for Manchester and the rest is history.
The road ahead for Pattison is a long and arduous one, but he impressed in the same way Juventus and former Real Madrid star Ronaldo did, shining in a Spanish tournament against Real Murcia, which has in turn earned him a contract, aged just 13.
One stumbling block was his dad Jody had to move to Dubai for a year, so the deal was put on hold. But Murcia – who last graced Spain’s top flight in 2007/08 – waited patiently to get their man.
“To sign this contract is an amazing feeling,” said Pattison.
“It’s different to anything I’ve ever felt. The length of it is until I get scouted by another team, which hopefully happens.
“It came about around two years ago when I played a tournament with Promesas Elche.
“We played Real Murcia and I scored two goals to win the game and they really liked me and offered me trials. I played and they wanted to sign me, but we moved to Dubai for my dad’s job so I couldn’t play that year.
“They waited for me and this year they wanted me back. I signed the contract a few days ago.”
The family had lived in Spain for a decade prior to the move to the UAE, due to dad Jody setting up his design agency, Bubblegum Business Solutions, with young Harry first catching the attention of Alicante Hercules as a seven-year-old. He spent three years there before moving on to Elche.
Even when living in the Emirates, Harry maintained his fitness, honed his ability and also hoovered up numerous awards.
“We lived in Dubai for about a year. I played for three teams there, Repton, IJF Academy and DASSA,” said the Coventry-born centre midfielder.
“I was captain for Dubai Boys and got most valuable player there. For IJF I got MVP for the whole academy and also got MVP for the school too.”
The family are currently in Spain with Harry as he takes the next steps of his career, and the youngster will remain there as the rest of his loved ones return to Dubai next month.
“This is only the start of my journey,” said Pattison, an Arsenal and Real Madrid fan who counts Manchester City midfielders Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne as his favourite players.
“The next step is going on to bigger things, a bigger team and hopefully growing mentally and physically into a better person and player and get recognised by bigger teams. That’s my main aim.
“I want to play as well as I can, impress my team-mates and coaches and the staff at Murcia.
“This whole year has been amazing, meeting the staff at IJF and at the school, they were really good. If I can become an ambassador and help kids pursue their dreams and what they want in life that would be amazing.”
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