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The 13 year-old soccer star in Tucson who could soon be a professional

Posted at 10:42 PM, Apr 25, 2024

TUCSON, Arizona — Over at Silverlake Park, sometimes thirteen year-old Deshnick Nkeh will dribble right past three defenders.

"When I saw him play, I was blown away," said FC Sonora head coach Gabriel Rocha.

Sometimes, Deshnick will make an unselfish extra pass.

"From the moment I got to meet Deshnick, the thing that stood out to me was really his character," added Rocha.

And sometimes, Deshnick will make a perfect pass.

"Kids gravitate towards him," said Rocha. "Everyone gravitates towards him."

Deshnick Nkeh emigrated from Cameroon to Tucson two years ago to be with his father.

“Soccer is my favorite thing to do,” said Nkeh. “It gives me joy and happiness.”

His talent was quickly noticed and brought to the attention of FC Sonora youth soccer coach Gabriel Rocha.

“I got to meet him, and I saw him play for the first time, and I said that this kid is special,” said Rocha.

Rocha helped develop Deshnick’s skills, and took him to matches and soccer camps while pushing him to try out for the U.S. Olympic developmental team. It wasn’t just his soccer that stood out.

“There were sixty players from prestigious academic but Deshnick was the only one who picked up the trash,” recounted Rocha. “All the coaches saw that. That’s the kind of young man that Deshnick is.

Deshnick was one of eighteen players in the entire country to be selected for a national identification program that are scouted for eventual placement to the U.S. National team. He recently returned from matches in Portugal.

“It was really cool,” said Nkeh. “Plus, it was my first time being over in Europe. It was a really cool experience.”

Next up is a tryout with the residential academy of the Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake.

“When you have that blend of character, humility, hard work, passion, discipline, dedication, and drive, those are the ingredients for something special,” said Rocha.