Young Kiwi has chance to be next Lionel Messi
Otto Ingham is on the path to become New Zealand's very own Lionel Messi.
The 12-year-old Auckland resident is returning to Barcelona for nine months to play for Barcelona FC's elite futsal side.
This will be Otto's second year in a row in Spain as he chases his dream of one day becoming a professional footballer.
Last year he trained with the elite squad but played for local side Sant Joan Despí.
"Football is fun, I just enjoy it and I make lots of new friends," he said.
"I just want to play professionally."
In Auckland, Otto played for Eastern Suburbs up until recently but has now moved to Western Springs.
This year when he returns to Spain he will be on the Barca side and looking to step his game up to the next level.
"I love the training, the coaches and the other boys but I really like the gear we get to wear."
Otto will receive a full Barcelona kit including travelling polo shirts, full game strip and tracksuits.
The team travels on a private bus to tournaments in different parts of Spain.
Last year Otto was joined by his mother Dianne but this year it's his dad John's turn to head overseas.
"We really don't have a plan, we just need to see how it goes," his father said.
"We got some really good advice, and we were told to just treat it like an adventure because it could all stop tomorrow."
The main thing is that Otto is enjoying every minute of it and he knows there is no expectation to become a professional, his mum said.
Otto will attend a local Catalan school during his time in Spain so he and his dad have been learning the language.
When Otto isn't at school he will be training with his futsal side in some of the best training facilities in the world.
"I learn a lot about how to read the game differently and different moves I should do at certain times.
"The Spanish players are way faster and they've got lots of strategies they use for corners and free kicks."
Otto has been lucky enough to come face to face with Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta and also got a nod from his favourite player.
"I once saw Messi and got a wave from him.
"At Barca we train where the top players train so occasionally you see them."
After last year's amazing experience Otto is hoping to take things even further with the support of Barca FC.
"Everyone over there is incredibly helpful and they all seem to adore him," his mum said.
"They are just impressed with his skill and the nice person that he is."
The Ponsonby Intermediate student leaves for Spain on August 26 and is looking forward to catching up with all his Spanish friends.
New Zealand Football need not worry though as Otto has already pledged his allegiance to the All Whites.
"I'd definitely play for the Kiwis over Spain!"
- East And Bays Courier
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