Louis Bertrand is a football scout in France for one of the top teams in the French leagues and he narrated his personal recommendation for this Nigerian-American born player that plays for FC Dordrecht’s U-14 Academy team in the Netherlands.
“He has a Nigerian father and he is eligible to play for Nigeria's youth team and he is currently one of the top youth players in Europe.His name is Lateef Omidiji Jr. and his date of birth is September 12, 2003."
“I have been watching and tracking his progress for the past two years I also know that most of the scouts here in France and colleagues all across Europe are aware of and monitoring him as are the top clubs in the Netherlands but are hampered by FIFA transfer regulations.” Bertrand continued
“I believe in 2-3 years, he will be one of the most sought after players in Europe and he is a credit to your country.”
“When I first saw Lateef Jr., he was 10 playing at the Keele Cup in Manchester in 2013. I remember his speed and technical skills, this 10 year old playing against some of the top 13 year olds in Europe (we didn’t know he was two years younger) and that is saying a lot.”
“It was as clear as can be that while rough around the edges, if developed can be a great player. I remember the disappointed on the faces of fellow scouts from some of the top clubs in Europe - friends and colleagues of mine when they heard that he was American. Disappointed not because he wasn’t European but because they couldn’t make him an offer due to FIFA regulation.”
“What I saw in him in 2013 brought me to the United States in September 2015 where I watched him train and play in a tournament and watched him impress me again. Yes- you notice his speed, strength and finishing but the kid has this look in his eyes that I've only seen in a few elite players. It wasn't just that he scored lots of goals or his technical skills were superior to everyone on the pitch, but he had that tenacity and commitment that you only see in a few players.”
“The last time I gave a player recommendation to a Football Association was for Paul Pogba in 2008 to join the French U16. When I watched him at a regional tournament in Paris, I get the same feeling when I see this young player. Lateef jr gives me the same exact feeling which is that if developed properly, he could be an exciting prospect. I know that the Americans are looking to add him to their youth roster as well from my contacts in U.S. soccer but I believe that the best path for him is Nigeria.
I think securing him for Nigeria will be a major coup for this technical committee and board because he is of high profile here in the Schengen area.
I have been monitoring him for my club and again, huge improvements and is a player of the future, I believe for my club when regulations permit. I have kept close tabs on him here in the Netherlands from his first tournament here where he tallied two goals against Anderlecht's U14s in Belgium to his improved technique last week when he scored two free kicks in one game from different sides of the edge of the box in a friendly game against the Dutch U14s and unselfishly provided two assists where he could have shot the ball. Lateef jr remembers is 12- plays U14 in the Dutch division 1 age group....that is remarkable in itself.
When I spoke to the U14 coach after the game, his reaction was priceless, he jokingly said he would ask the federation how they can expedite his citizenship because they don't want to play against him at National youth tournaments in the future.
He has trained at our facilities and we know that our rivals have also invited him out to train at their facilities but we are optimistic that he will choose our club when FIFA permits a transfer.
I have spoken to his academy manager who tells me that they see him after practice every day training by himself or with his older sister and when they're not training together, he is often asking the U15 and U16 coaches if he can train with them. That mentality is rare in a youth player. His academy manger Peter Drijver has also put together a specific developmental plan for him to develop him into a comprehensive player who can play on any side of the field and any position up top while working on his areas of weaknesses and solidifying his strength.
What we look for is a player that has the raw material and if put in the right environment with the right coaches and team can flourish and in the games that me and my colleagues have seen him play in the Netherlands, we see a kid that is teachable and improves every time we see him. He is a youth player and of course has many steps to take and many areas to improve but the improvement I saw from 10-12 is outstanding and I believe he will be an asset for Nigeria.
My scouts and I have watched him play against varying levels of teams and he is always consistent with his mentality and tenacity. Even in games when his team is outmatched, we have heard respectable opposing coaches telling their players not to lose sight of him for one second because of how he can make something out of nothing. He is an attacker in the mold of Luis Suarez, not a huge dribbler but very technical, very fast, great finisher and that immeasurable intangible of a player that can change a game with one touch.
I know that the current NFF board have done a lot for youth soccer but I also know a few administrators in U.S soccer who informed me that the American FA from chairman to technical staff are very keen on him and will be inviting him to camp with their U14s this summer which is why I am emailing you because I hope for development sake, he plays for Nigeria youth teams because I think it offers the best path for him to develop.
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