Franco Acosta is the spearhead of Uruguay’s U-17 side. The young Charrúa was the leading marksman at the South American U-17 Championship in Argentina in April, scoring eight times, a haul that suggests he will be one of the players to watch at the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013.
Having modelled his game on that of his hero and compatriot Edinson Cavani, Acosta is aiming for nothing less than individual and collective glory in the UAE, where he hopes to lift the trophy and walk away with the adidas Golden Boot.
His goals certainly came in useful for Uruguay in the continental qualifiers, the striker scoring twice in their final and decisive match against Peru as La Celeste sealed a place at the world finals for the third time running and sixth overall.
Runners-up to the hosts at Mexico 2011, the Uruguayans are aiming to go one better this time around. And as Acosta told FIFA.com, they will give everything they have got in trying to achieve that goal.
“We were very confident about qualifying," he said. "We stuck together and we knew that we had to dig deep to reach the World Cup. We don’t give up easily and we fight right till the final whistle.”
I know that if I score as many goals as I did in Argentina, I’ll be the top scorer at the World Cup. That’s my dream.
Discussing his contribution to their examining but successful qualifying campaign, he said: “I worked very hard to be the leading goalscorer, chasing down every ball as if it were the last and drawing on the support of my team-mates, which gave me confidence.”
Having made it to the finals, Los Charrúas are setting their sights high. “We’ve got big expectations,” revealed Acosta. “We’ve got a lot of new players and we’re very confident. We know we can go far.
"We chat amongst ourselves a lot and like every kid does, we’re dreaming of doing something big. We’re very close, we’re excited and we know we’ve got the team to improve on 2011. We can be the champions.”
Technically gifted and strong with it, Acosta is every inch a Uruguayan footballer and described himself in the following terms: “I’m a centre-forward first and foremost, but I can play out wide too. I like attacking at pace and on the counter, and my strength is my ability to read the game and be in the right place at the right time. I’m an opportunist.”
Explaining his admiration for fellow countryman Cavani, who recently moved to Paris Saint-Germain, Acosta said. “I follow his career and I like him as a person too. I always watch him and I really enjoy seeing him play. I try to copy his movements and I identify with him because of his speed and awareness on pitch. He’s a phenomenal player and I hope I can follow in his footsteps.”
Another crucial figure in Acosta’s fledgling career is his national team coach Fabian Coito, the man who took Uruguay to the final at Mexico 2011.
“He has so much experience," said the youngster. "He’s always talking to us about how much it means to play in a final at youth level. He tells us what a wonderful occasion it is and that’s why we need to dream and enjoy ourselves on the pitch.”
"He always lets us know that we have a very big responsibility though, because the whole country is watching us and we have to do Uruguay proud. And he tells us over and over that we can never give up, which is very important for us.”
Currently training with Fenix’s first team, the ambitious Franco has yet to make his Uruguayan first division debut. Yet for the time being at least, his thoughts are firmly fixed on UAE 2013.
“My aim at this World Cup is to go and do what I did in the South American Championships,” he said, setting out his personal goals. “There are a lot of really good players in some of the other teams and they’re well known too. But I know I’ve got a lot of strengths as well and that if I score as many goals as I did in Argentina, I’ll be the top scorer at the World Cup. That’s my dream.”