A 13-year-old football prodigy has become the youngest player to turn pro during his debut with the Sacramento Republic, a team in the United Soccer League. According to ABC News, Da’vian Kimbrough gave an interview alongside his father, Dominique Kimbrough, to Good Morning America about his experience on Oct 6.
Da’vian said, “At first, I was a little nervous but I feel like once I stepped on, it was more exciting than anything. I tried to silence the noise and just play soccer.”
Da’vian bested the previous record held by Axel Kei by about two months. Kei was 13 years, nine months, and nine days old when he debuted for the Real Monarchs, and Kimbrough was 13 years, seven months, and 13 days old when he stepped onto the pitch during the 87th minute of the match between his team and the Las Vegas Lights. Kei is now the youngest player in MLS history; Real Salt Lake signed him as a 14-year-old.
Following the game, Da’vian said he kept his celebration relatively low-key.
“I celebrated by going up to my family first of all, of course, taking pictures,” he said. “And then I also went over to fans at the end, to sign some stuff and take pictures.”
Da’vian only played about three minutes of the match, but his appearance represents the team’s long-term investment in him following his signing to play first-team football for the Republic after being in their youth academy for the last two years.
Da’vian’s father told GMA, “I actually just didn’t think it would go this far, at that point. His love for the game took it here.”
The elder Kimbrough added, “At 4 years old, it was just alright, let’s get into something, and then that something turned into this amazing human being that’s sitting here with me right now.”
Kimbrough advises his son to ignore the noise and keep working at his craft–advice Da’vian has taken to heart as he tells other young athletes, “Persevere through everything, no matter what. And everyone has a different path, so even if you don’t make it at the same age as me, keep pushing hard so you can make it eventually.”
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