- Mikey Poulli, eight, suffered a rare and disease that caused him to go blind
- He was spotted by England’s blind squad coach and receives funding from FA
- Mikey, an Arsenal fan, shared a video of his impressive football skills on Twitter
An eight-year-old boy has pursued his dream of becoming a footballer and now trains with England – a year after going blind.
Mikey Poulli, from London, was diagnosed with a rare and incurable eye condition at seven years old and subsequently lost his sight.
But he has since amazed coaches with his skills and has been training with England’s blind squad.
Mikey, who is a passionate Arsenal supporter, shared a video on his Twitter of his incredible football skills.
The avid fan dribbles the ball, scores goals and tackles other players with perfect precision.
Father John Poulli, 37, a finance consultant, said: ‘Mikey was born perfectly sighted and was fine until he was six years old.’
Mr Poulli and his wife Mireille Poulli, 36, took Mikey for a routine eye check in 2016 where he was diagnosed with rod cone dystrophy.
As he lost his sight, Mikey’s football team told him that he could no longer play for them because it was a risk to other players.
Mr Pouilli said: ‘Unfortunately his vision deteriorated quickly and he had to stop training at his local club before the end of the season as it has become too dangerous.’
But not wanting to give up, his parents then took him to Tottenham’s Centre of Excellence where he joined the visually impaired team.
And despite being the team’s only blind player, he shocked coaches with his skills.
Mr Poulli said: ‘One day the coach called me and said: “your son’s got amazing abilities, I want to call the FA for them to send a scout down to see him”.
‘We were just happy to have found a place for him to play and within a week he was signed up’.
Mikey now trains once a month with other blind children and England football team at Brighton FC’s training centre, and receives a weekly one-to-one coaching session funded by the FA.
And the team GB and England blind football head coach has been ‘counting down the days’ until Mikey is old enough to play for the national team.
Mr Poulli said: ‘He’s a very active kid, he’s a lot better than me at football. He locates the ball so precisely thanks to the bells inside it.’
The footballs Mikey trains with have ball bearings inside them to allow blind players to locate them on the pitch. He also wear a mask designed for visually impaired people to have an equal advantage at playing the game.
Mikey has since met his favourite Arsenal players who have encouraged him to keep playing the sport.
Talking about Mikey’s blindness his father said: ‘It’s still very fresh, every morning I wake in disbelief, hoping that they have found a cure for him overnight.’