Crystal Palace’s Nya Kirby is yet to turn eighteen but such is his talent that he has already been on the radar of the country’s most prominent sides in his young career.
And the wealth of success he has already enjoyed on the pitch speaks volumes.
A year ago, Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino was so impressed by what he saw from the youngster that he even went as far as calling him up to train with the first team alongside established superstars such as Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen.
And with former Crystal Palace manager Frank de Boer in charge, he even made his debut for the Eagles in a friendly match against Liverpool last month. To say that the world is at his feet is a clear understatement.
Last year, the holding midfielder’s move from Spurs to Chelsea was done and dusted before it went up in smoke after his then parent club reported their city rivals for tapping him up behind their back. http://gty.im/862452342
Eventually he joined Crystal Palace in February where first-team opportunities are more realistic and the 17-year old Manchester United supporter firmly believes that he has what it takes to break into the first-team and go all the way in world football.
“If I carry on working hard, I will hopefully play for the first team”, he said.
“For now I will carry on playing with the under-23’s but hopefully I will get my chance to train with the first-team.
“And of course, I dream of becoming a star one day. I am working hard for it.”
Crystal Palace have started their campaign with six straight defeats and thus, survival is hanging in the balance. They are still goalless in the Premier League despite boasting superstars Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha.
And to make matters worse, the next five games will see them line up against Manchester United, Chelsea, Newcastle and West Ham United. On paper, a tricky task. But not insurmountable according to the young prodigy.
“Crystal Palace will stay up. Everybody is happy and working very hard and hopefully we will get a few good results”, he stressed before rubbishing claims that there were problems between De Boer and the squad prior to his sacking. “No, no, no…no problems”, he clarified.
And of course, I dream of becoming a star one day. I am working hard for it.” So how far can Kirby go? And what sets him apart from the others ?
Physically he has drawn comparisons with Holland legend Ruud Gullit due to his dreadlocks. Yet, on the pitch those who watch him play week-in-week-out liken him to Dele Alli.
The pace of Kirby, his vision, his creativity, his cutting edge, his dribbling ability, his speed of thought, his awareness of those around him and his eye for goal. All these things have made him an unbreakable joy to watch. One day he might be worth the price of a Premier League ticket. For the moment, he is a YouTube sensation and on Palace’s new manager Roy Hodgson’s mind. Many even tip him to step into French star Yohann Cabaye’s shoes should the former Newcastle man return to France next summer.
But despite the clamour, the adulation and the growing limelight, Kirby keeps his feet planted on the floor, having been well informed about those who wanted too much too soon and saw how cruel the game could be.
Featured Photograph: Crystal Palace Football Club