Monday, February 19, 2018
Sports

Tampa teen is a rising soccer player with Bayern Munich Youth Academy

TAMPA

In his heart of hearts, Jerry Green wants his son here in Tampa. Nothing would make this proud father happier than to have Julian graduate from Plant High as his older brother Justin did last year.

"I always hoped Julian would come live here and go to high school here like his brother did," Jerry Green said. "I would love nothing better."

But Julian Green's plans appear to have a much broader scope.

Green, born in Tampa, is playing soccer in the Bayern Munich Youth Academy in Germany. Last year he led the U-17 team in goals with 17 and also appeared in four matches for the U-16 national team.

"Everything about Bayern is first class," Julian said. "From the training grounds, to the coaches to the staff. I have learned a lot in my time over there."

Bayern Munich is one of the top soccer clubs in the world, having won a record 21 Bundesliga championships and four more Champions League titles.

"They are a big club so it is an honor to be involved with them," Julian said. "I just want to keep working hard, developing my skills and hopefully one day I can play for the first team."

Julian signed a development contract with Bayern Munich when he was just 12. Green's father said he is provided a tutor and paid a salary, all while training constantly with some of the world's best players.

"A lot of times we train two times a day," Julian said. "It is a lot of hard work but very rewarding."

Bayern Munich's Youth Academy has recently produced such international stars as Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Muller. As many as six current starters on Bayern Munich's first team came up through the youth academy.

To say that Green is among exclusive company is an understatement.

"His youth coaches would always tell me how good he was but it's one of those things where I figured they were just saying that," Jerry Green said. "He was taking kids to the cleaners around the little villages where he lived but when he got the call from Bayern, you knew how serious this was."

While in the Army and stationed in Germany, Jerry Green married a local woman. The pair moved to Tampa and Julian was born at MacDill Air Force Base. After two years, the couple separated and Julian and Justin moved back to Germany with their mother. But because Julian, who visits his father in Tampa once or twice a year, retains dual citizenship, he is eligible to play not only for the German national team, but the United States as well.

"We will have to see how that all works out," Julian Green said. "Right now I am just mainly focused on improving my skills every day."

That doesn't mean Julian doesn't think about potentially wearing the Stars & Stripes one day. He said the U.S. Soccer Federation inquired about him through Bayern Munich.

"I was told (the U.S.) was going to call me directly but they haven't yet," he said. "I have watched a lot of America's games and they are getting much better. It would be an honor to play for either Germany or America."

As for his immediate future, Julian will be moving up to Bayern Munich's U-19 team and will enter his junior year of school. Although Jerry Green still holds out that his son may move to Tampa, he also understands Julian's career path at Bayern Munich is leading toward a career in professional soccer.

"Personally, the best case scenario for me is for him to come over here, attend college and play soccer for them," Jerry Green said. "That would be perfect for me but I think he's got bigger options in front of him."

Brandon Wright can be reached at [email protected]

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