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Jennings’ battle with Beckham jnr opens up a Galaxy of opportunities in Los Angeles

Published: February 24, 2012 | 12:54 pm
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The cousin of NRL star Michael Jennings is making all the right moves, writes Dominic Bossi.

It’s not every day a 13-year-old boy gets to impress David Beckham. But for Leroy Jennings, two seconds of glory – an inch-perfect slide tackle on Beckham’s 13-year-old son Brooklyn – may change his life forever.

Jennings, the cousin of Penrith NRL star Michael Jennings, is flying to the US today to sign a one-year deal with Major League Soccer club Los Angeles Galaxy.
The Sydney teenager will join the club’s youth ranks after a successful trial in which he was selected by the directors of the youth academy – and even Beckham himself. It was during a game in a nine-day football workshop run by the Galaxy in January, that Jennings was the standout performer.

”I tackled him [Brooklyn Beckham], I got the ball and had to play on,” Jennings said. ”It was two seconds of glory. After the game, the director of the youth academy asked [David] Beckham who were the stand-outs and he replied with me.”
After outplaying Beckham’s son, Jennings was later that night rewarded with a seat at the press conference where Beckham announced his contract extension with the club. Jennings met the former England captain, obtaining a signed Galaxy jersey, which he gave to his sporting role model, cousin Michael.
The young central midfielder continued to impress in the training camp, where his natural ability and exceptional work rate were noticed by the coaching staff. Competing against a number of

talented juniors, his leadership, passion and ability to read the game convinced talent scouts
he has the ability to forge a long career as a professional footballer.
”I think a lot of kids have similar skill levels but anyone that makes it to the next level, is because of their commitment, passion and desire,” said Allan Tasses, director of Australian Football Scouts.

”He’s got great football knowledge, a great football vision, he’s got all the skills and he’s a team player and a leader. He’s a big asset and that will be what LA Galaxy will be looking for.”

Despite the plaudits, Jennings never expected an offer from LA and was shocked when asked to join the academy shortly after returning home.

”At first I didn’t really think it was a call back,” he said. ”Maybe just a chance to pop in [to LA] again for training every six months, but that night when my coach informed me of what they wanted, it was hard to sleep. The whole experience is overwhelming, I’m trying to remind myself that I’m actually playing soccer with LA, one of the best teams in America.”

Jennings has the support of his junior clubs, Parramatta FC and Granville District, and earlier this week he was released by them to move to Los Angeles. His father Joseph and mother Sarina, a singer, will join him to help their son make the most out of what he describes as a ”’dream move”.

The determined young footballer could spend more than the original 12 months at the Galaxy as part of a ”rolling contract”, in what he is hoping will be the first step towards a career in the English Premier League.

”[My aim is] to make this first team, start most of the weeks and move on and hopefully end up at England, for Chelsea,” he said.


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