Pirie's budding soccer star heads for Barcelona

SKILLS: World soccer greats have developed their skills at an international tournament in Barcelona that Joshua Hunt will participate in. He hopes to catch a glimpse of his hero Lionel Messi while in Spain.

SKILLS: World soccer greats have developed their skills at an international tournament in Barcelona that Joshua Hunt will participate in. He hopes to catch a glimpse of his hero Lionel Messi while in Spain.

The name just rolls off the tongue – Lionel Messi – in the same way his attacking skills mesmerise the world and budding young soccer players such as Joshua Hunt.

Joshua, 15, of Port Pirie, is bound for Barcelona, Spain, with the Adelaide United Under 16 team for an international youth football tournament at Easter.

It will be his second trip with the team, having visited the city last year for a similar event during which he watched his hero Messi score twice while playing in a Spanish competition.

Joshua is a striker-attacking midfielder for Northern Demons Under 18 in Port Pirie and hopes to one day represent Australia in his sport.

Asked what he thought of his trip to Spain, he said: “What’s not to like?”

He will spend about 10 days there in late March with representatives from more than 280 teams from 40 countries in seven age classes.

More than 700 matches will be played in front of 220,000 spectators.

Known as the Mediterranean International Cup, it allows youth to meet and compete against he most famous clubs in the world.

It has involved Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Port, Sevilla, Malaga, Arsenal and Ajax and national selections such as Brazil, Mexico, Qatar and China.

Famous players who made their first steps in the tournament include Messi, Neymar Jr, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Lucas Leiva.

Joshua, who attends St Mark’s College, has taken strides locally toward his own dreams.

He won the Golden Boot award for the Northern Demons Under 15 team last year with 20 goals.

While soccer is his priority, he hopes to pursue a career in sports medicine or physiotherapy after finishing his education.

Next season he will continue with the Northern Demons Under 18 team and possibly knock on the door for selection in the seniors.

He keeps fit by running around the neighbourhood.

“Every day I go for a five-kilometre run. I just kick the ball around at home and I train every Tuesday and Thursday at the club,” he said.

He has made his parents Paul and Kirsty Hunt proud and they will travel with him to the land of Messi.

Perhaps the international experience second time around will polish Joshua’s skills even more.

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