Daniel de Silva is already a record-holder, but those who know the 15-year-old best as a footballer think he just might be something very special.
The youngest footballer to play in the Hyundai A-League, rising Perth Glory star Daniel de Silva has bags of potential but the man who brought him through the system says it-s too soon to say how far he-ll go.
Glory made Hyundai A-League history a couple of weeks ago when they brought the 15-year-old on as a substitute in the 2-1 victory over Sydney FC, and the word around the traps is that this kid could be the next big thing.
But former Glory assistant Kenny Lowe warns not to place too much expectation on the teenager, and that there is still a lot of time and work ahead for the talented youngster.
Lowe, now a coach at the Football West National Training Centre, says what matters now is ensuring De Silva is in the right environment to develop.
“Danny-s been through the state chains and the NTC programs for the last few years with us. He-s a good boy. Like any 15-16-year-old kid, Danny-s got potential. He-s a super kid.
“He works hard, he-s quite balanced in his outlook, he-s humble, he-s got no ego, he-s a team player, he-s got some wonderful technical ability, he understands the game tactically - all the building blocks for a very good player are there.
“It-s just hoping that where ever he goes and whoever he-s involved with helps him maximise those. It-s like you-ve pulled a diamond out of the ground; now you-ve got to polish it. How good can he be? In five or eight years- time you might be able to answer that but at the moment it-s too soon.”
Working with his Qantas Joeys coach Alistair Edwards at Perth Glory could be just the right move at the right time.
Glory have been criticised of late for letting too much of their local talent leave the state, such as Jesse Makarounas to Melbourne Victory and Adam Taggart to Newcastle Jets, but with De Silva signing a two-year professional contract, it appears the club have realised the worth of keeping hold of and developing their best young players as part of a longer-term vision for a sustainable future.
“Danny-s involved with his national coach who thinks a lot of him and regards him highly, he-s going into a good environment because he-ll take care of him,” Lowe says.
“There-s pressure on coaches and the way to get round that is to give someone a three or four-year contract and if you believe in them, allow them to build something. The coaches at Perth are always on one year deals and it-s tough for the guys to take a gamble on a kid because too many kids get you the sack - and not enough kids get you the sack, so you-ve got to find a happy medium.
“All the players that have gone, I think Glory have always tried to score for those players but, maybe the structures within the club hasn-t always been there for them for it to be attractive. Adam Taggart signed but then left, Makarounas signed and left - it-s a tough one for young players. All players want game time and if they don-t get it they-ll look elsewhere for the opportunity. That might change now and could be a big driver for the lads to come and stay in Perth.
If you look around, you-ve got Trent McClenahan, you-ve got Mark Birighitti... Look at how Scott Galloway-s done at Melbourne Victory - he hasn-t missed a game. You-ve got Sammy Mitchinson at Melbourne Heart, Mitch Oxborrow, Taggart in Newcastle, Makarounas at Victory - in five years- time, these kids are going to be mature proper footballers. They would be some time because all of them are nigh on the best in their age group.”
And De Silva could just be the best of the bunch, reportedly turning down a number of European clubs, including EPL giants Everton, to stay in Perth and continue his development.
“Dan had plenty of offers,” Lowe says. “He just took his time, explored the different avenues and maybe when Ali went in there, someone he-s worked with he trusts. I don-t believe Danny- got an EU passport, which inhibits the opportunity to go to the UK at a young age. Maybe when he-s done well in the A-League and set it on fire, a few people will come knocking on the door.”