The laws that govern human migration can have massive implications. They can save or wreck lives and also impact football careers.
Were it not for the particulars of British government and FIFA immigration rules Daniel De Silva, the second young player in Austrailian league history, might be an Everton player.
He trained with the English Premier League club in 2012 and they were keen to keep him but paperwork got in the way.
Instead he is making headlines and breaking records at Perth Glory. He made his A-Leauge debut in March this year at the age of 15. Only Teeboy Kamara has appeared in the A-League at a younger age.
De Silva is one of the most exciting prospects Australian soccer has seen. Eager pundits have drawn comparison with the talents of the Golden Generation headed by Harry Kewell.
Paul Okon called him up to train with his Under 20 squad ahead of the FIFA Youth World Cup, primarily for experience. So impressed was he however, that he named De Silva in his squad for the final tournament in Turkey.
World Cup star
De Silva rewarded Okon’s faith with some startlingly mature performances. He gave a man of the match display against Colombia, scoring in a 1-1 draw. His strike made him the youngest goalscorer in U20 World Cup history.
– Daniel De Silva individual highlights Australia v Colombia
De Silva is a wonderfully balanced midfielder. Small of stature with plenty of physical development remaining his game is characterised by speed of thought and action.
He was the youngest player at the tournament by six months, a significant margin in youth football. Against players sometimes five school years above him De Silva gave a masterclass in turn, pass and move football – a boy cleverly outfoxing young men.
He returned to Australia with an enhanced reputation and was linked throughout the summer in numerous media reports with a move to Europe. Barcelona were just one of a host of clubs said to be impressed with his skills.
De Silva was a student at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and came to the attention of international scouts, including representatives from Inter Milan and Manchester United, at a Nike Asia youth tournament.
Everton continued their fine recent record of Australian talent spotting and he accepted their offer of a trial. They have recruited a number of Aussie youngsters in recent years including Jake Adelson who is a second year scholar at Goodison Park. De Silva would have joined him but for international regulations.
Where his future lies now is open to debate.
There have been conflicting noises coming from Perth Glory about De Silva fulfilling his contract which expires at the end of the 2014-15 season.
Chairman Tony Sage has said that nothing less than $1 million would see De Silva leave Perth. Usually when a club talks about one of their players and a price in the same sentence it suggests a transfer is imminent. But De Silva’s youth could prolong his stay in Australia.
Italian Serie A side Catania are said to have offered $1 million for him but Perth coach Alistair Edwards is adamant that, as per FIFA regulations, De Silva will not make any international move before his 18th birthday.
“The fact is with Danny, he’s 16 years old and he can’t go overseas until he’s 18,” said Edwards.
FIFA regulations prohibit international transfers before the age of 18. There are exceptions to the rules but De Silva may have to wait to make an international move.
Manchester United manager David Moyes certainly knows about De Silva’s talent from his time at Everton. Premier League club’s have been most strongly linked with this signature in the media.
His father is believed to favour a move to Spain however and in stylistic terms it would seem the most logical destination. De Silva already plays like a midfielder raised in the school of tiki-taka.
There is still a long way to go before he reaches the highest level. He has yet to start a game for the Glory but as he develops this will change. Regardless, a move overseas remains a question of when not if.
For the time being he will stay with Perth. Hopefully he will be able to pick up some pointers from new Glory signing William Gallas.
Australia have found a star in De Silva. He will shine in the green and gold shirt of the national team even if he is no longer playing in the A-League. Domestic fans should enjoy him while they can.