GOLD Coast coach Miron Bleiberg believes Sunshine Coast teenager Mitch Cooper is a star in the making and “will be richer than you or me”.
Cooper – a member of Gold Coast's youth side – recently returned from Mexico, where he represented Australia at the under-17 World Cup and caught the eye with a stirring performance against powerhouse Brazil.
“He's very talented, very skilful and is a natural on the ball,” Bleiberg said at the unveiling of Gold Coast United's playing strip and new major sponsor, Hyatt Regency Coolum, at the resort yesterday. “He will probably finish in Europe and will be richer than you or me.”
Club owner Clive Palmer agreed and added: “He is regarded as one of the real stars of the future.”
The 16-year-old midfielder has secured a contract with the Gold Coast's A-League squad for 2012-13 and is one of a number of promising rising stars at the club.
Palmer defended the club's decision to focus on nurturing young local players instead of recruiting hyped overseas names.
“We've won the youth championship two years in a row, which has never been done before, and a lot of our youth players have gone on to play for Australian age teams,” he said.
“These are local kids who lived in Queensland.
“They're as good as any international players I've seen and they will become international players in their own right and will probably be based in Europe.
“Rather than bring in old players who are hobbling along, we'd rather promote our own players.”
The Sunshine Coast boasts another two players at Gold Coast United, injured goalkeeper Jerrad Tyson and defender Zach Anderson.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.