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9-year-old soccer phenom attracts scouts
By Tales Azzoni (Agencies)
Updated: 2005-01-28 11:38

At this rate, sonograms will become a soccer recruiting tool pretty soon. Jean Carlos Chera, a 9-year-old who is 4-foot-6, is attracting interest from Manchester United and other top European teams.

This is an undated handout photo released by Associacao Desportiva Atletica, of 9-year-old'super talented' Brazilian soccer player Jean Carlos Chera, in Campo Mourao, southern state of Parana, Brazil, on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2005. Chera's above-average talent caused furor locally and quickly caught the attention of several European teams, including Manchester United. [AP]

Chera, who weighs 77 pounds, currently plays for the youth teams of Associacao Desportiva Atletica, a small club in the southern Brazilian state of Parana.

"Seven or eight European clubs have already contacted us to know more about Jean," team president Adilson Batista Prado said in a telephone interview Thursday. "They want to know what he is all about, and I tell them he's a phenomenon, probably the best player to come out of Brazil."

Prado and team officials would not identify all the clubs interested in Jean, but confirmed that representatives of Manchester United have asked for videotapes of his matches.

Prado said teams from Portugal, France and Germany have made contact, and local media identified FC Porto as one of the teams.

The club said the European clubs haven't made official offers yet, but some have asked for permission to send representatives, and others have invited the midfielder and his family to go to Europe.

"He still needs to be a kid," said Prado, who does not allow Jean to talk to reporters.

Jean began to attract attention after the club put videos with highlights of Jean's matches on its Web site. In the videos, Jean is seen scoring goals from midfield, dribbling past several defenders and playing among 13- and 14-year-olds.

After the videos were posted, the site's page views nearly tripled and some of them had to be removed to keep the site from crashing, the club said.

Two years ago, Manchester and Inter Milan were among top clubs that expressed interest in then 14-year-old Freddy Adu, who signed Major League Soccer instead. European clubs generally are not allowed to use players from outside the European Union on their first teams until they turn 18.

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