Leon Bailey, the wonderkid who chose Genk over Chelsea

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Football News

Four years ago, Leon Bailey and his agent, Craig Butler, landed in Belgium after having crossed the Atlantic from Jamaica.

Realising his protegee possessed magic feet, Butler was hoping to place the 15-year-old in a renowned football school to further polish his skills.

Bailey eventually found shelter in Genk. With the likes of Thibaut Courtois and Kevin de Bruyne recently coming through their youth ranks, the club's academy has a fabulous reputation when it comes to recognising and developing young talents.


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Thus, all seemed plain sailing, until Butler faked his own kidnapping. In the agent's own words, whilst travelling to Mexico he was attacked and left to die in the desert.

A few months later, he returned to Belgium penniless. It turns out, Butler and Bailey were staying in the country illegally. Labour Inspection were on to them and they both vanished.

Bailey then reappeared in Ajax. Ronald De Boer, who had the wonderkid under his wing in Amsterdam, used nothing but encouraging and flattering words to describe the left-footed player:

"He's got it all. Like all the other players, he underwent a series of tests at the club. When it came to speed and agility he did better than several first team boys. He's so quick, it's not normal. He couples that with great technique, an exceptional combination. What are his weaknesses? I couldn't tell you."

Besides De Boer, Piet de Visser (Roman Abramovich's personal advisor and a Chelsea scout) also had his say on the teenager's genius:

"I essentially know him through my colleagues, I've only seen him on tape. But he's a top talent. His technique is excellent and he's so fast. I'm curious to see how he'll perform. He now has to show what he's really worth. In each case, he has everything to succeed."

Following a brief spell at Trencin in Slovenia last term, Bailey received several offers from all over Europe. Despite Chelsea and Ajax's interest, the 18-year-old made the surprise decision to rejoin Genk where he penned his first professional contract last August.

Whilst explaining his choice, the Jamaican said: “I'm really happy to be in Genk. It has always been my dream club. Those two years in the youth ranks played a major part in my development. I visited many clubs, but what Genk offers me is incredible. I never felt the support I got here anywhere else. Genk has always been my home.”

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