It’s not often that players become household names before even entering their teens, but Atlético Madrid’s 15 year-old striking sensation Salomón Obama is an exception.
He and twin brother Fede are renowned amongst football fans in Spain, almost becoming something of a running joke with their appearances in the famous Torneo Arona each year.
The talented duo more or less single-handedly won the competition for Atleti in 2011 and 2012, standing out for their physical dominance in the annual new year tournament for up and coming players aged twelve and under.
However, despite many criticising their involvement and demanding to see birth certificates – both were born this side of the millenium – the two showed that they can most definitely play football.
Throughout their youth careers, both have played well above their age groups and still managed to impress, with Salomón in particular now starting to make people stand up and take notice.
The youngster from Equatorial Guinea was promoted to our top youth team in September and hasn’t looked back, hitting 10 goals so far this season including one in the UEFA Youth League.
On Saturday, he scored the equaliser in an eventual 4-2 win over Real Madrid, who will have been relieved to see him forced off with an ankle injury shortly after given the torment he has inflicted on their youth sides down the years.
Atleti beat their cross-town rivals to the signing of both twins back in 2009, and in his first season, ten year-old Salomón scored 8 goals in two games against los Blancos as the red and whites won the local Under-12 league.
He has since gone on to help pip Madrid to titles at various levels, but if he was something of a giant in those days (both metaphorically and literally), he now cuts a smaller figure up against players as old as 19.
Salo has had to adapt his game as a result, but despite many predicting that he would fade once ‘the others catch up with him physically’, he has continued to improve and become a more complete centre-forward.
His build and the way he leads the line is eerily reminiscent of Samuel Eto’o, and he also has many qualities shared by former rojiblanco frontmen that make him a prime candidate to join the long list of top strikers to have graced the Vicente Calderón.
Deadly like David Villa, with a skill-set and low centre of gravity similar to Kun Agüero, he even has the tenacity and enterprising style of Diego Costa in his game. Like the latter, there is also a chance he could opt to represent Spain at international level rather than his homeland.
With our Juvenil A side top of their domestic division and already through to the UEFA Youth League knock-out stage, doors will surely begin opening for Salomón should he continue in his current vein of form.
He turns 16 in February, around the same age as current favourites Koke and Saúl when they were promoted to the reserve side. Óliver and Fernando Torres made their full debuts without even playing for Atleti B, and they were lesser known than Salo when coming through the ranks.
As Cholo’s men continue to struggle in front of goal, it is re-assuring at least to know that there is striking talent coming up from within, possibly sooner than you think. Watch this space.
See the video below for some of Salomón’s best moments in the Atleti academy: