“He is going to play for Barcelona… he is the Michael Owen sort of striker” – childhood coach tips England youth international Tom King for greatness

“There is no doubt in my mind, he is going to play for Barcelona.”

17-year-old Tom King became the first Cheltenham Town player ever to be called up by any age group for England last week after being selected for the Under-18s squad.

Childhood coach Simon Bean has heaped praise on the youngster, stressing just how good a player King is going to be.

“He is so single-minded,” declared Bean.

“He is so focused and driven and determined if you know him as an individual.

“There’s no doubt in my mind, he is going to play for Barcelona, no doubt at all.

“The kid is absolutely driven and he will do anything he can to make himself better.”

Bean coached the Gloucester-born prospect at youth level for Gloucester City and Nailsworth side Shortwood United where the youngster developed before signing for Cheltenham at Under-16 level.

The Robins forward is the youngest ever EFL appearance maker for his club after coming off the bench on the opening day of this season against Shrewsbury Town at age 16 years and 319 days.

Sport runs in the King family, with the Cheltenham player being the son of professional sprinter in his mother and a semi-pro cyclist in his father.

Having such sporting influence in his blood has evidently aided his mentality and development.

“Some kids go by the wayside,” Bean continued, “they have a couple of good years, they don’t grow and then they sort of fade away at Under-12s, Under-13s… that’s not the case with him.”

King’s playing style has drawn impressive comparisons from his former coach as he compared him to a former England international and Ballon d’Or winner.

“I believe that [he is] the sort of Michael Owen sort of striker.

“He is quick off the mark, his first five to ten yards he is blisteringly quick.

“He is quick over a further distance as well, but five to ten yards, that speed of the mark, coming from his Mum… I’m not going to say he is Messi but he is got that low centre of gravity, great movement, body swerve, fitness is through the roof.”

He’s yet to feature in either of new Robins boss Darrell Clarke’s first couple of games, but Bean has tipped him to be an important member of the new manager’s squad.

“Darrell Clarke has mentioned about the Cheltenham lads not being fit enough… he’ll be the fittest person in that squad.

“His fitness is unbelievable… his upper-body strength has come on in leaps and bounds.

“He looks after himself.

“He is a professional footballer in the waiting.”

King will travel with the England squad to Spain where they will face Belgium, Morocco and Korea Republic in a World Cup warm-up tournament in Marbella.

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