Auckland midfielder Cameron Martin is the first New Zealander to step towards trialling at one of world football's biggest clubs.
Entering its second year, Nike's "The Chance" competition is again searching for the best unsigned talent in the world.
With the likes of Barcelona manager Josep Guardiola, Dutch 2010 World Cup finalist Giovanni van Bronckhorst and former Manchester City utility Sun Jihai all among a global scouting network, 100 young players will progress to an August grand final in Barcelona.
In addition to an overall winner, 15 other players will also earn a rare opportunity to impress at professional clubs.
Martin, 17, has already established himself as one of New Zealand's best young players and was at last year's under-17 world cup in Mexico.
And after winning the New Zealand launch event under the watch of All Whites striker Shane Smeltz and chief Pacific scout Danny Hay, a former All Whites captain – Martin has secured a guaranteed place in the Pacific regional final.
"I was pretty nervous because it's such a big opportunity and I didn't know what to expect," Martin said.
"We were put in a game environment and we just had to do our best.
"It's pleasing to get through to the regional final, and I'm looking forward to getting out there."
Hay, who has overseen a batch of young talent emerging from Sacred Heart College, including Tim Payne who has signed a professional deal with Blackburn Rovers, said nationwide trials should yield more players for the regional final.
"Trials in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch should find another four or five boys for the Pacific final," he said.
"From there, there will be four from Australasia who will go through to the world final."
- Sunday Star Times
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