An 11-year-old footballer from Liberia has made headlines after featuring in a senior match for fourth division side FC Gar'ou.
Eric Marshall, an 11-year-old central midfielder from Liberia, has found himself in the spotlight after video footage of him playing in a domestic first-team fixture went viral earlier this week.
The youngster, who is described by his club as "the world's youngest footballer" made his third senior appearance of the season on Monday when he featured for 80 minutes in Gar'ou's victory over Haifa FC.
Following the match, which was reported to have been attended by scouts from the Netherlands, a social media account purporting to be that of the club was quick to praise the qualities of their burgeoning talent.
"We are so blessed to have Eric as a team and country and greater humanity," Gar'ou shared on Twitter, alongside additional video footage of his performance. "We pray he brings the needed level of joy to global football enthusiasts."
However, serious concerns were immediately raised online regarding Marshall's safety and wellbeing due to the stark differences in his physical stature compared to his opponents.
Gar'ou, who are hoping the youngster's newfound stardom will earn him improved opportunities for development, sought to address some of these concerns in a string of social media posts to concerned parties on Thursday.
"We understand your apprehension," the club said in response to one such message from Harry Brooks, the co-founder of the Create Talent agency.
"Our thought now is to see the best possible project or opportunity for him. He is only a year younger than Mauricio Baldivieso when he made his professional debut with Aurora against La Paz on July 9, 2009, in Bolivia..."
"No one understood the risk more than he did. His awareness of his physicality, opponents and teammates informed him with the simple touches he made. If you observed rightly, he invited less tackles. That demonstrates how above the average he is."
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