Ansu Fati is one of the world’s most upwardly mobile players, with the Barcelona prodigy’s career going from strength to strength.
Having played his way into the first-team frame at the Camp Nou and becoming the youngest player to score in the Champions League and to score a senior international goal for Spain, the 18-year-old forward is poised on the brink of the big time.
Fati is also beginning to catch the eye beyond the realms of football, with brands keen to associate themselves with one of the game’s most promising rising stars. Indeed, the youngster has signed up to become an ambassador of Cupra, the Spanish motor company in its second year as official partners of Barcelona.
“At Cupra we strongly identify with Ansu Fati’s career, a young man with humble roots who fights for his dreams and inspires new generations from Barcelona with audacity and ambition,” Cupra president Wayne Griffiths said, completely naturally, in a press release. “In a short period of time, both the brand and the footballer have forged a path in the automotive and football worlds thanks to their non-conformist character and desire for constant evolution.
“Ansu wants to make a difference and help society evolve, therefore he will be part of a group of young challengers with whom Cupra aims to be the impulse of transformation in the era of electrification”
— CUPRA (@CUPRA) March 24, 2021
Fati visited the manufacturer’s base at Martorell, Catalonia and even configured his very own Cupra Formentor, given to him as part of the sponsorship deal with the club.
However, there is one small stumbling block when it comes to Fati’s burgeoning endorsement deal with Cupra: he doesn’t yet hold a driving license.
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Fati reached the minimum legal age for driving in Spain when he celebrated his 18th birthday on Oct. 31 last year. However, just a week later, he suffered a meniscus tear in his knee in a 5-2 win over Real Betis and the injury required surgery. He has been on the sidelines ever since and, sources have confirmed to ESPN that he has been unable to take his driving test while he recovers.
So, for the time being at least, the Barca wonderkid will have to make do with posing near his flashy new car and sitting behind the wheel without firing up the engine.
Kai #Havertz is getting even closer to finishing school!
He has his exit exams coming up and we’re wishing him the best of luck!🍀 pic.twitter.com/3REZmRiLIU
— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) April 26, 2017
At least Fati isn’t the first rising star to be too young for their own good. During his early years at Bayer Leverkusen, Kai Havertz was forced to miss a Champions League knockout game against Atletico Madrid because the 17-year-old had to sit “important exams at school” the following day.
In 2018, Christian Pulisic was forced to forgo the “Man of the Match” award despite playing out of his skin for Borussia Dortmund in an International Champions Cup game against Liverpool. Unfortunately for Pulisic, the game took place in the U.S., meaning that the 19-year-old star was below the local legal drinking age (21) and therefore not allowed to accept the award, which was sponsored by Heineken.
Back in the halcyon days of the Premier League, a bottle of champagne was the standard bonus presented to any player deemed to have been Man of the Match. It soon became apparent that alcohol was perhaps not an appropriate gift to bestow on players, especially as a succession of teenagers were forced to give it away.
Gareth Bale (17) once handed over a bottle of bubbly to senior Southampton teammate Andrew Surman (18), while Arsenal youngster Jack Wilshere (then aged just 16) gave it to his mother after putting in a stellar performance against Wigan in the League Cup in 2008.
Perhaps more famously, Federico Macheda was unable to enjoy the reward for his astounding Manchester United debut in 2009, when the 17-year-old striker came off the bench to score a brilliant, vital stoppage-time winner against Aston Villa. The Italian’s dramatic cameo won him Man of the Match honours, but it was Gary Neville who given the champagne after being handed it on his junior teammate’s behalf.