Adnan Januzaj participated in the prestigious U17 Future Champions International in 2011

One of Manchester United’s hottest new players has been making headlines for all the right reasons.

Belgium-born Adnan Januzaj is one of the club’s rising stars, scoring two goals on his professional debut. Having been groomed in their Academy, Januzaj has put his years of practice into good use .

He has been selected to represent Belgium in the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup. The Manchester United youngster only declared his intention to represent the country in April, but went straight into the 24-man squad for Brazil – a fitting achievement for a player so clearly on the path to glory.

Playing their first game against Algeria at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Belgium are firm favorites to progress from Group H at the FIFA World Cup.

However, Januzaj is no stranger to Belo Horizonte. Indeed, it was here that he got a taste of competing against top international squads at an elite level.

Adnan Januzaj participated in the prestigious U17 Future Champions International in 2011, which was hosted by the Prefeitura of Belo Horizonte in Brazil. Playing for Manchester United, Januzaj had the opportunity of competing against some of the world’s best youth teams and players in a tournament that has become one of the biggest U17 club events on the global football calendar.

Top teams from North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa vie for an invitation to compete, in the hope of battling it out for the title of Future Champions during the weeklong tournament.

It provided Belo Horizonte and Minas Gerais with the opportunity of testing its capacity for hosting international events of such magnitude ahead of the FIFA World Cup, showcasing their infrastructure, hospitality and rich cultural heritage.

Although he didn’t take his team to victory in 2011, Januzaj no doubt hopes to beat the Brazilians on their home turf this time round.

  • We had a wonderful football and cultural experience in Gauteng. The tournament and activities were very well organized and we found everyone involved extremely helpful and accommodating. We have all returned home with fantastic memories of our time in South Africa, both on and off the pitch, and have made many new friends as a result of the trip. I hope that we are invited to participate in future tournaments.

    Everton Academy Head Coach
  • The experience both on and off the field for our players during the Future Champions tournament in Gauteng was life-enriching for all those who participated. We were privileged enough to win this edition but what will be bringing us back in future is the cross-cultural education our players receive from spending time with athletes from all over the world. They are human beings before they are football players and enriching them with other cultures is as rewarding as the experience they receive on the field.

    Club Tijuana Director of Football
  • After twenty years of experiencing tournaments around the globe, Future Champions is hands down the best organized, well run International Tournament we have ever participated in. Bringing teams from dozens of different countries provided our boys exposure to cultural diversity they only read about in textbooks. It’s amazing how sport can be the cultural link that provides the opportunity to interact with each other and discover that our global community is a bit smaller than they realized. We had a football and cultural experience that will be cherished for the rest of our lives.

    Director of USYSA Select
  • For us to compete in Future Champions is much more than playing a series of matches. It is an opportunity to compete and contrast our level against the best teams from around the world and the possibility of living in another culture and environment for an unforgettable week, learning about the history of the fight for human rights.

    Director of Aspire Academy
  • The addition of a girls’ competition this year is a natural expansion for what has become a hugely popular event. Over and above the football, the players are also exposed to life-skills courses and HIV/AIDS awareness that could end up saving their lives in the future. We have had an amazing partnership with the Gauteng Province over the last decade and we thank each and every stakeholder for making the Future Champions Gauteng campaign such a huge success

    Tournament director