Sebastian Martinez is one of the most talented schoolboy footballers in Cayman; which is why dad Barry sent him to England for the summer to ensure he gets the top quality coaching essential to become a pro.
Barry took the 12 year-old Cayman Athletic striker to Swindon at the end of July to work with Fitzroy Simpson, the former Jamaica midfielder who played all three games for the Reggae Boyz in the World Cup finals of 1998.
Sebastian is tiny but despite his size scores for fun for Cayman Athletic and evidently needs better competition to realize his potential. Swindon is about 80 miles west of London and Swindon Town is widely respected for producing pros for bigger clubs.
Barry left him there in Simpson’s care and in scrimmage games and two matches, first against Liverpool and then Nottingham Forest, Seba showed he can hold his own with some of the best youngsters in Britain.
“Sebastian is a very talented, interesting player,” says Simpson. “He is a work in progress and for the past three months I’ve been liaising with Barry to ensure he reaches his potential. The advantage he has over others despite his size is his exceptional ability.
“He is an intelligent boy and will be a work in progress until he reaches 20. His genetics have been assessed by a top doctor for the England Under-18s and Chelsea and he thinks Seba will be 5ft 10ins.”
Midfielder Simpson played 55 times for Jamaica and his connection with the Cayman Islands stems from working with coach Carl Brown, Cayman’s present technical director, who coached the Reggae Boyz in their golden years in the late Nineties.
Simpson runs his own skill school in Swindon and agency, Goald Football Management. He has produced some exceptional youngsters, including Gareth McCleary at Nottingham Forest, Mark Marshall (Barnet), Max Lonsdale (Manchester United) and Julian Bennett (Sheffield Wednesday). “All of them will be household names eventually,” insists Simpson.
He thinks Martinez can join them because he sees similarities with Bolton veteran Ricardo Gardner who was plucked out of obscurity in Jamaica to make it in the Premiership. Simpson feels there is enormous untapped talent in Cayman that deserves a chance to flourish.
He will come to assess their potential when he brings Sebastian back home at the end of August.
Against Liverpool, Martinez played well and he even managed to score in the 5-4 loss to Notts Forest.
“Seb must get regular competition at the highest level,” says Simpson.
“He has the technical ability and his appetite for the game is way up there with the pros. He is a natural and I don’t allow talent to slip through my grasp.”
Martinez will have to wait until he is 14 to get into a heavy weights programme. In the meantime between Simpson,
his parents and the Cayman Islands Football Association and sports minister Mark Scotland who have all backed him on this trip, he will continue to get the necessary support.
Simpson, 41, turned pro at 16 at Swindon Town when he wasn’t much bigger than Martinez is now under former Man United stalwart Lou Marcari. Other managers he learnt his trade from there included Ossie Ardiles and Glenn Hoddle.
He moved to Man City for over $2 million in 1992 spending four years there before moving to Portsmouth. Then there was a spell at Hearts in Scotland, Walsall, briefly in Spain and non-league football before he turned to coaching and being an agent full-time.
There are 36 players on his books and he is excited by the quality of the kids at his Soccer Matrix Skill School, which is fully endorsed by the English Football Association.
“We try to do it the Barcelona way.”
Simpson’s sons Jake, 16, and Jordan, 12, are both on Swindon Town’s books and chances are Martinez could be recruited there too if things work out.