Barcelona’s Ansu Fati Cleared To Play For Spain After Being Granted Passport

The Barcelona forward Ansu Fati has been cleared to play for the Spanish national team after he was granted a passport on Friday, with the Football Federation including him in their long list of players to travel to the Under-17 World Cup in Brazil next month.

Fati, who was born in Guinea-Bissau in October 2002 and emigrated to Spain at the age of six, became the second-youngest footballer in history to play for Barcelona when he made his debut as a substitute in week two of the Liga season, aged 16 years and 298 days.

He could also have applied for a Portuguese passport but opted for Spain.

The Spain manager Robert Moreno admitted for the first time last week that the RFEF has been working on Fati’s passport. The process, which goes back around three months, was backed by Barcelona and the country’s Consejo Superior de Deportes (Supreme Sports Council).

It was completed on Friday morning when it was cleared by the government – just in time for him to be included in David Gordo’s long list of players available for the Under-17 World Cup. He is expected to be included in the final 23, meaning that he will be temporarily unavailable for Barcelona.

Fati’s father Bori left the family and travelled to Portugal in search of work when his wife fell pregnant in early 2002. He then moved to Spain, making his way to the village of Marinaleda, a self-proclaimed communist utopia 101km east of Seville.

Marinaleda’s mayor since 1979, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, found work, home and helped to bring the family over. Ansu joined the local team in the town of Herrera and was later signed up by Sevilla, where his brother Braima played. He followed his brother to Barcelona at the age of 10.

There has been huge excitement surrounding the striker after he became the youngest footballer to play for Barcelona in more than 80 years, Leo Messi marking the occasion by publishing a photograph on social media of him embracing the 16-year-old. “I can die happy now,” his father Bori announced after the game.

The following week, Fati became the youngest player ever to score for Barcelona and the third youngest in La Liga history when he came on as a substitute at Osasuna and scored after just six minutes. He started his next game, becoming the club’s youngest ever full debutant at 16 years 318 days.

He had only been on the pitch for 111 seconds when he scored. Five minutes later he had provided an assist. Afterwards, one newspaper in Catalonia declared an outbreak of “Ansu Mania”. This week he started for Barcelona at Dortmund in the Champions League, their youngest ever player in the competition.

source: the guardian

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