The epic story of scouting.
The tale opens in 2007 as Josep Colomer, the scout who nurtured Lionel Messi at Barcelona, navigates the Niger Delta escorted by armed rebels. Supported by 6,000 volunteers across Africa, he aims to assemble a squad of the continent’s most promising 13-year-olds by testing half a million of them—every year.
Mr Abbot’s book focuses on a clutch of early candidates who are plucked from Ghana and Senegal and transported to unimaginable luxury in Doha. The motives of their benefactor, Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, are unclear. Ostensibly they are there to provide practice for local players in the hope of strengthening the national team, ahead of a bid to host the World Cup in 2022. Some think the real plan may be to make Qatari citizens of Africa’s finest.