Charlie Patino has what it takes to make a name for himself at the highest level according to his former coach at Kenilworth Road, Dan Walder.
The Academy Operations Manager snapped up Patino, 11, when he was just six years old after watching him play for St Albans at a tournament in Markyate.
“When I turned up he was whipping balls with his left foot into the top corner before the game.”Dan Walder
Now after being signed by Premier League giants Arsenal, Walder believes he has every chance of progressing.
He said: “He’s only 11 years old, and you wouldn’t want to hang your hat on anyone of that age as you don’t know what’s going to happen when he goes through his teenage years, but he has as good a chance I guess as anybody of that age.”
According to Walder, Patino’s talent stood out at the earliest of ages, as he was snapped up when playing in St Albans, after already attracting Town’s interest previously as well.
Walder continued: “He came in as an U7 and trained in the U8s. He was a great kid, he was so mature beyond his years and just progressed so quickly.
“I’ve always found it the most obvious age to scout because most of the players you see at that age can hardly kick the ball.
“When I turned up he was whipping balls with his left foot into the top corner before the game, so straight away you go ‘wow, that’s impressive’.
“His technique at six was excellent, and then during the game, you see little bits of what he can do.
“He’s been playing U12s and scored the best bicyle kick I’ve ever seen in front of the Chelsea scout for the U13s, so we sort of knew then he’d be going very soon.”
Despite his natural talent on the pitch, Walder believes it’s also his off field strength that will stand him in the best stead while at the Emirates, while Walder was also quick to praise Patino’s family for keeping him grounded during such a high profile move.
For a special double page feature on Patino, see the News/Gazette on sale now.