A 15-year-old from Sydney has secured a dream move to Europe where he will follow the lead of some of Portugal’s early-2000s golden generation.
Jaden Gasking has agreed a four-year deal with former Portuguese champions Boavista FC.
The Sydney Olympic U16s starlet will make the move next month and train with his new club into the new year before penning an official contract on his 16th birthday in February.
Jaden, whose mum’s side of the family hails from Portugal, says a switch to Europe has always been the aim, however unlikely it might have seemed.
“At the moment you take what you can get in Europe,” he told FTBL. “The level over there is outstanding.
“But mum’s side [of the family] is Portuguese, and the Portuguese league and the players they produce is phenomenal, so I saw that as a great opportunity.”
“It’s always definitely been a path that I wanted to follow, and as much as it’s been a chance thing, it’s always been something that I really set out to achieve.”
Jaden spent last season playing for semi-professional Sydney Olympic U16s, turning down Western Sydney Wanderers as it may have complicated a potential move abroad, as per FIFA transfer regulations.
A year on, that move has become a reality, coming after he followed a relative’s advice and attended training camps in Portugal to maintain his fitness during a 2018 family holiday.
That led to further spells training with a number of clubs – including giants Porto – but ultimately it was Boavista with whom the teenager saw his immediate future.
"It was a very professional set up with the coaches and the players. Everyone was very dedicated," he said.
“The facilities were really good, but I just found the environment was more suited to my playing style, the way that they like to play. At the end of the day that was the thing that made my decision.”
A right-winger or striker by trade, Jaden heads to a country with an illustrious list of stars to have played in that position. And so too is he in good company in playing his youth football at Boavista.
In recent years the club has produced top names such as Manchester United playmaker Bruno Fernandes and ex-Premier League stars Jose Bosingwa and Raul Meireles, while Nuno Gomes and Joao Pinto – who were amongst Portugal’s ‘golden generation’ of the early 2000s – also came through the ranks.
As good as the setup in Portugal is though, the youngster speaks just as fondly of his experiences in Australia’s youth football system.
“I think it’s been great [in Australia],” said Jaden, who was on Sutherland Sharks' books for five years prior to playing for Sydney Olympic.
“Europe definitely does it better in terms of professionalism and quality, but I think the level in Australia is actually quite good and it’s getting better every day.
“I actually go to Westfield Sports High School, so I train with the best players for my age in the country every day, so I find that for my development is also really good.
“Overall it’s been really good. There’s nothing negative to say.”
His dad, Ben, recalls driving a six-year-old Jaden to youth games and never quite expecting a move to Europe could beckon, but says his son has always stuck by his guns.
He added: “This has actually been Jaden’s dream, and I sat down with him a couple of years ago and said, ‘Where do you want to be?’ And he goes, ‘I want to be in a sporting school, and by the time I’m 16 I want to be playing football over in Europe.’
“He’s chased his dream and now he’s reaping the rewards of it. And the hard work begins now.”