Fourteen-year-old soccer standout Francis Jacobs became the youngest male player in history to sign a professional contract in United States on Monday when he inked a deal with USL Championship side Orange County SC.
The native of Laguna Beach, Calif., signed with OCSC on July 26 at 14 years, four months and 29 days old. Previously, Freddy Adu was the youngest player to sign a pro contract at 14 years, five months and 16 days when he signed with D.C. United of the MLS in November 2003.
“I’m pretty excited just because I’ve worked really hard throughout the years to get to this point, and the guys are really cool on the team,” Jacobs told ESPN FC in a phone interview. “So it’s pretty exciting to join a team you really like, and I’m looking forward to the future.”
OCSC head coach Coach Braeden Cloutier called Jacobs a “gifted local talent,” and said he has been impressed with his performance since May during training with the club’s first team.
“I’ve been really impressed with his poise and ability on the ball that he’s shown us these past few months,” said Cloutier. “This is a great opportunity for Francis, and also an exciting challenge for the entire Orange County SC technical staff to do everything possible to help him reach his fullest potential.”
Jacobs is eligible to make his historic first appearance as early as Saturday when Orange Country takes on Las Vegas Lights FC. However, Cloutier told ESPN he was doubtful that 5-foot-11 midfielder would play.
“I just want to make sure we’re doing this at the right pace and the right time,” he said.
“As a 14-year-old he’s already more mature than most of the teenagers that we come across who play for us,” said OCSC GM Oliver Wyss, according to ESPN. “I think that has a dramatic impact because his coachability, his smarts, his intelligence, are very, very high for a young man. That also played into the equation.”
Prior to joining OCSC, Jacobs played with the Irvine Strikers and had training stints with Bundesliga clubs Cologne and Bayer (DE:) Leverkusen in Germany.
“It will be really exciting,” Jacobs said regarding the possibility of making his pro debut. “But it comes down to how you play in the practices. It’s the coach’s decision of which lineup he wants to put out there.”