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Babot emails his way into international football

Pau Babot (Andorra)
  • Frankfurt teenager emailed video of wonder goal he scored to Andorra FA
  • Pau Babot invited to a train with the country’s U-17 team
  • Played against Germany in a UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifier

Aged 16 and hailing from Frankfurt, Pau Babot is described by the people who know him as an educated young man who has his feet firmly on the ground. Just two weeks ago, however, he was on the opposite side to his native Germany in a UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifying match.

Babot is one of two captains of the U-17 side at Frankfurt club Karbener SV, which plays in the Hesse regional league of Germany’s second division in the age group, a level below the U-17 Bundesliga. Every weekend, he and his team-mates take on the likes of Eintracht Frankfurt, Darmstadt 98, Kickers Offenbach and FSV Frankfurt.

Though he was born in Germany, his mother is from Andorra and he regularly travels back to the small Pyrenean nation to visit his relatives. It was that family connection that gave him the idea of one day playing for the Andorrans.

That seemingly far-fetched plan began to take shape thanks to Daniel Vidrascu, one of Babot’s club-mates at Karbener, who plays for Moldova’s U-17 team.

“Pau is an out-and-out team player,” said Thorsten Don, his coach at Karbener. “He’s grounded, technically gifted and strong in the air.”

A friend of Babot’s aunt gave him the email address of someone at the Andorran Football Association and the youngster duly dropped them a line, backing up his enquiry with a video of a superb goal he had scored against Kickers Offenbach just a few weeks earlier.

“Pretty soon after that the Andorra FA invited me to their U-17 team training camp and I spoke to the coach on WhatsApp,” said Babot in an interview with FIFA.com. “On the Monday I trained with the U-17s and he said after we’d finished that I’d be training on the Tuesday with the U-19s, who were about to travel to Scotland for the European Championship qualifiers.”

Due to a lack of players, the U-19 coach was forced to take some of the U-17 squad to Scotland, one of them being Babot, who had made a good impression in training.

As fate would have it, Andorra’s first opponents in a group also containing hosts Scotland and Belarus were none other than Germany.

“It was amazing, something I could never have imagined,” said Babot, who came on a few minutes from the end of that match, with his side trailing the country of his birth 3-0. “The physical demands are a lot higher with the U-19s. The pace is a lot faster.”

Explaining his feelings at taking on the cream of Germany’s U-19s and the difference in standard with the U-17s football he plays, Babot said: “I spoke to the German players before the game and a lot of them have already made their debuts in the Bundesliga and second division, so you can’t really make the comparison. We were all pretty pleased with the result.

“I was very nervous before I went on,” he added. “I didn’t want to make a mistake but I even managed to win a header.”

Babot did not feature in the 2-0 defeat to the Scots in their next game but spent 15 minutes on the pitch in Andorra’s final match, another 2-0 reverse, this time to Belarus. “It seemed like 45 minutes to me,” he said.

“We invited Pau to train with us and we saw straightaway that he fitted into the way we play,” said Andorra’s U-19 coach David Rodrigo. “We hope he’ll be playing for us for many years to come.”

Judging by the coaching staff’s positive appraisals of Babot’s debut for Andorra, there is every chance he will feature in the U-17 squad that will face Republic of Ireland, Israel and Montenegro in this November’s qualifiers for the European Championships in the age group.

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