Aspiring professional footballer Stephen Carmichael is on the verge of the biggest break in his fledgling career.
The Manurewa 18- year-old is at the Nike Academy's prestigious The Chance global finals in Barcelona and will know today whether he is among the 16 finalists selected by Nike coaches and scouts to experience a four-week training tour, travelling the world and facing some of the most prestigious youth academy teams in world football.
One of those players will also be selected to join the Nike Academy in England for three months so they can showcase their talent to professional scouts and coaches.
It has been an arduous trial for the talented Auckland City midfielder who has the distinction of being the first New Zealand male footballer to score a hat-trick at a FIFA tournament.
He did that against Uzbekistan in the under-17 World Cup in Mexico last year.
Carmichael is up against 100 young footballers from 55 countries across five continents. The Sacred Heart College old boy who got his start with Manurewa at War Memorial Park got to Barcelona by winning one of three places set aside for players from the Pacific.
Thirty-five players took part in three days of trials at the Australian Institute of Sport.
Carmichael, like many a young player from South Auckland, switched to an Auckland club in search of furthering their opportunities.
He joined Central United where he went on to represent Auckland in the youth grades.
Auckland City then snapped him up for their national league campaign.
The teenager's big break came with the New Zealand under-17s when he made his debut as a substitute in a pre-World Cup warm-up match.
He impressed enough for coach Aaron McFarland to give him a start against Uzbekistan.
It's a match he'll never forget.
"It's an awesome feeling - just unbelievable," Carmichael said of his hat-trick and man of the match award.
"Once you get the opportunity you've just got to take it.
"It's something I've worked really hard for and tried to make the most of the chances I've got."
- © Fairfax NZ News