Imagine one day you are playing here in Australia for a Premier Youth League for a club with a great history such as Sydney Olympic and then next, you are playing in the biggest junior tournament in the world for one of the biggest and most successful European football clubs ever such as AC Milan.
Well, one kid at least need not imagine it any more because recently it became a reality for him and the experience will live for him forever.
For 11 yr old Panos Armenakas, attacking midfielder of the 2010 Sydney Olympic U13s squad, this is exactly what happened and the experience that unfolded for him with AC Milan at the Mundialitio tournament in Portugal, where 3000 players from 140 clubs, representing 27 countries had gathered, is priceless.
In the 1998 age group across 8 groups of 7 were the likes of Juventus, Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, FC Porto, Spartak Moscow, Esporte Clube Brazil, and the eventual winners from Cameroon, Samuel Eto'o Selecion Foundacion.
Panos said: "I had been to the AC Milan Academy before and even knew a couple of the boys I would be playing with, but this time I knew playing for the club in such a big tournament would be very very special".
"I realised that being amongst players from these clubs, who could possibly one day be playing professionally in the big leagues, just how much the pre-season training, matches and ongoing training at Olympic had prepared me for this tournament. I would really like to thank Olympic for supporting me in this tournament. They were proud of me when I first asked them for the time off and were very supportive in their comments. Having Mark Bosnich also speak to me before I departed helped me to better prepare myself.”
“You don’t realise just how big a club AC Milan is and how much respect they command until you get to a tournament like this and see just how in awe all other clubs are of you. It was an honour and a pleasure to have represented the great AC Milan at such a prestigious tournament. I tried to take things game by game and not to get too nervous and I think my contribution to AC Milan’s results was pretty good. Now its back to helping Olympic have a great year.”
Panos scored 8 goals in 7 games played, delivered 7 assists, and was awarded 3 player of the match awards as judged by the referees of each match. Sydney Olympic would like to congratulate Panos for his achievement and look forward to seeing him perform for the club in the years to come.