We are all constantly on the lookout for football’s next big thing.
The words “Remember the name, Wayne Rooney!” are etched into the minds of everyone who saw the precocious 16-year-old score that screamer for Everton against Arsenal in 2002, and commentators all over the world are hoping to recreate that iconic moment with our sport’s latest wonderkid.
It’s not so easy for 16-year-olds to just burst onto the scene and tear the Premier League apart these days, but many of the game’s next generation are bubbling away nicely under the surface at youth level.
One of those future superstars is 15-year-old sensation Emre Tezgel, who is currently tearing it up for England’s Under-17 side. The Stoke City youth academy prospect is making waves on the pitch, and it’s only a matter of time before your Football Manager scout is recommending him to you due to his five-star potential.
So, what is there to know about the teenage starlet?
First off, he’s a striker. And from what we’ve seen so far, he’s exceptionally good. Unsurprisingly, he is the talk of Stoke’s youth academy setup, which has begun to produce some top talents in recent years.
Staff members are so impressed with the young striker, that he’s immediately drawn comparisons with England superstar Harry Kane. In an interview with Stoke-on-Trent Live, Stoke’s academy director Gareth Owen heaped praise on Tezgel, lauding him for his movement and finishing.
“He’s a Harry Kane-type centre-forward,” Owen explained.
“That gets bandied about but his movement is good, he can hold the ball up and he is decent in the air. His main attribute, though, is his finishing and that’s what good centre-forwards have.
“He plays like a seasoned pro, pulling off at an angle, giving little nudges to the centre-back and making space. It’s great to have that bank of knowledge already at his age.”
Tezgel also passes one of the oldest and sternest tests of time, too: yes, he can do it on a cold, wet, windy night in Stoke. The teenager, born in 2005, grew up in Burton and has risen through the Potters’ youth ranks, scoring goals at every single level.
He has now hit the ground running for Stoke’s Under-18s, scoring five times in three Premier League Under-18 appearances for the Potters. So, even in the toughest of conditions, he can deliver. Good to know.
He also trained with Stoke’s Under-23s over the summer – the boy is 15. Levels above the rest.
Tezgel’s talent and ability to adapt at every level suggests we will be hearing his name in senior football – both at domestic and international level.
He recently banged home a hat-trick for Stoke against Liverpool’s Under-18s, and then demonstrated exactly what he can do for the Three Lions, too.
Tezgel bagged another triple for England Under-16s against Northern Ireland, and that consistency saw him promoted to the Under-17s…
The youngster was handed the chance to represent England at Under-17 level in the Syrenka Cup, and he did not disappoint. He came off the bench in the semi-final clash with Portugal, aiming to overturn England’s 1-0 deficit.
He did exactly that. Tezgel scored two unbelievable goals in the final five minutes of the semi, dancing and weaving his way through a bewitched defence, while showing ruthless finishes.
His injury-time winner made him an instant hero, sending England into the final against Netherlands.
Ultimately, it wasn’t to be for England, who lost 3-2 to the Dutch in the Syrenka Cup final. But it was still a memorable night for Tezgel, who scored a brace for the runners-up.
His wonderful performances saw him recognised as the Player of the Tournament – a trophy recently awarded to a current England star. Jude Bellingham has given the exact same honour back in 2019, as that edition of the Young Lions went on to lift the cup.
But Tezgel is following in the footsteps of the now senior England international in shining at the tournament, and it may only be a matter of time until we see him lighting up the biggest stages of all.
One to watch, lads.