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It’s a name I never thought I’d know, at least not for another decade, and it’s a name I really don’t want to know right now.

For those who don’t know, Rhain Davis is a nine-year-old soccer prodigy who was recently, and very publicly, signed by Manchester United. The Red Devils discovered Davis, who is from Australia but also qualifies for England through his father’s side, after his grandfather sent them a DVD of him playing. The tape has now blown up on YouTube, being viewed more than three million times already.

Davis made the front page of The Sun newspaper and has been dubbed the new Wayne Rooney. All of this for someone who’s still in single digits for their age.

Besides the obvious fact that this much hype for someone so young is ludicrous—Manchester United have been quick to counter that they bring in 30-40 kids of Davis’ age every year and he’ll have to prove himself just like anybody else—is that fact that he’s already being compared to one of the preeminent talents in world soccer.

While the press can be quick to rush to hyperbole, a deep breath needs to be taken by all. Davis is young, very young. Who knows what will happen to him. He may burn out, he may become a Championship caliber player or maybe he’ll get into the big time. But whatever he does, it will be quite a while until he does it. Trying to judge talent in any sport this young is difficult. No one knows how he will develop physically or mentally. Some of those kids he’s running circles around now may catch up with him in a few years.

Prodigies, and I don’t even know if Davis is one, are difficult to evaluate. Having so much talent so young can be both a blessing and a curse. For one, they are immensely talented and look to have successful futures. On the other hand, those future expectations can also crush one’s mental makeup if they don’t continue to showcase and improve upon their promise.

Rooney was 16 years old when he began playing for Everton in the English Premier League. He was the youngest player to ever score in an EPL game and he is still the youngest player to ever play and score for England.

Will Rhain Davis ever fulfill this kind of comparison? Who knows? All we can do is let him be a kid playing soccer and when it’s time to properly evaluate him, then let the comparisons start.

In about a decade.


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