Chelsea and City sights on schoolboy star Zele Ismail 

BEST OF HIS AGE - Wolves schoolboy Zele Ismail, 15 

By DAVID HARRISON, 11/10/2008 

HE is the 15 year-old son of immigrant asylum-seekers - and is being tipped to 
become football's first £100million player. 

Zele Ismail, currently on the books of Championship leaders Wolves, has already 
attracted the attention of Chelsea and Manchester City,who are ready to pay a 
staggering £2.5m for the schoolboy. 

Even that fee is unlikely to make a dent in Wolves' determination to keep a 
tight hold on the youngster who is rated the outstanding player of his age in 
the country. 

The Midlands club have thrown a protective shield around Ismail since he joined 
them after arriving in England with his Serbian-born parents five years ago. 


Even when he was 10, Wolves were certain they had uncovered a gem who would 
become a major star if he continued his progress. 

But they were also aware he would become prey to the bigger clubs and top 
agents desperate to entice him away from Molineux. 

Wolves went to extraordinary lengths to keep Ismail under wraps and succeeded 
until he emerged before a wider audience in the summer, winning the Player of 
the Tournament at the Milk Cup event - the same stage at which David Beckham 
and Joe Cole first came to prominence. 

The remarkable emergence of Ismail was nurtured by Wolves former academy 
director Chris Evans, who in the past has discovered players such as Robbie 
Keane, Joleon Lescott, Lee Naylor and Wayne Hennessey. 

Evans, now assistant manager at Bolton, said: "It was clear very early on that 
Zele was a special player with talent way beyond his years. 

"We picked him up when he was playing for his school team and the Wolverhampton 
district side when he was 10. Straight away he was playing in age groups two 
years above his own. 


"He was smaller than the rest but his technical ability and football brain 
helped him overcome any physical problems. 

"We soon realised we needed to protect him because there are so many predators 
- recruitment officers from the big clubs and agents - in the game. 

"It got to the stage where I had to ban agents and other clubs from the 
training ground. 

"His ability made it impossible for him to be ignored. He could score four, 
five or six goals in a game so we tended to take him off so as not to draw too 
much attention to him. 

"But the cat is out of the bag now. He was superb in the Milk Cup tournament 
and now he has made his debut for the England Under-16s." 


Evans is convinced that Ismail will remain at Wolves and said: "The last thing 
Zele needs now is any upheaval in his life. He had enough trauma in his early 
years when he had to come to a new country and learn a new language and 

"There is no limit to what he can achieve. He is easily the best player in the 
country for his age. 

"If he continues his progress up to the age of 21 he will become priceless. 
People are talking about there being a £100m player one day. That's 
understandable because the game is now in the hands, not just of millionaires, 
but billionaires. 

"I wouldn't want to put any pressure on the lad, but in years to come I can see 
enormous money being spent on Zele." 

Pig's pudding - it's a mon's dinner aer kid

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