A gifted young footballer is training with England just a year after he went completely blind.
Football-mad Londoner Mikey Poulli, aged eight, stunned coaches with his ability only months after losing his sight.
He has now been earmarked as a potential star in B1 football for blind people, and has received FA funding for specialist coaching.
Mikey’s father John, of Oakwood in north London, admitted he was shocked at how quickly his son recovered from the heartbreak of losing his sight last year.
“All he wants to do is play football,” Mr Poulli told the Standard. “Before he knew about his vision, he would say: ‘I want to be a professional footballer.’ When he was losing his vision, he would still say: ‘I want to be a professional footballer.’
“It turns out he may be a professional footballer after all.
“His control is unbelievable. I don’t understand how he has it. I blindfolded myself and tried to play, and it was impossible. What he can do is incredible.”
There had been no hint of a problem with Mikey’s sight until a routine eye test in 2016.
“He was born perfectly normal,” Mr Poulli said. “When he was six, we took him for a random eye test and the optician noticed something was not quite right.”
Further tests at Great Ormond Street Hospital revealed he had a rare eye condition, rod cone dystrophy, a disease of the retina.
Within a year of the August 2016 diagnosis, Mikey had lost his vision completely. “His vision had been closing in,” Mr Poulli said. “Eventually it was just a small dot.
“All he wanted was to carry on playing football. We were trying to find places which do visually impaired football and we found one at Tottenham’s Centre of Excellence. Mikey was the only completely blind child, and he was the best one there!”
Mikey, a huge Arsenal fan, was spotted by coach Oliver Monksfield and it led to him being given funding for his development.
“He took one look at Mikey and the next day I got a call from Oli saying he had contacted the FA. He said he had so much ability
“Not all blind players receive funding, but Mikey has got it because of his potential.”
A stunning video of Mikey’s skills went viral last week, as it was shared thousands of times.
Meanwhile, his footballing ambitions have been backed by professionals such as Tim Cahill, Jermaine Jenas and, to the delight of the father and son Gooners, Arsenal legend Alan Smith.
Source: Evening Standard