Football is already an obsession with Mirko Brinkmann.
But it is about to get more serious for the 12-year-old with dazzling feet and an eye for goal after he was selected for a three-week trial with London club Fulham.
Mirko impressed coaches at recent national training camps held by the Ricki Herbert Football Academy (RHFA). He was one of 120 talented youngsters invited to attend two RHFA national camps in Taupo in September and October.
They were attended by Fulham academy coach Dave Wright who spent six days working with the players as part of a partnership between his club and the RHFA.
Mirko will spend three weeks at Fulham's academy ground Motspur Park next March and will see first-hand what it takes to be a professional footballer.
The attacking midfielder, who plays for Blue Rovers, Papamoa and the WaiBOP Federation Talent Centre, says he thought he was in with a chance after he was called back to attend the second camp.
"There were two camps, one for the under-13s and one for under-17s. I did the younger one which was three days and then I got invited back for the older one and went there for one day," Mirko said.
"It was a very organised camp and they put us through quite strenuous training I guess. It was quite high impact on your body but it was a mix of everything. They trained you on touch and small-sided games and things like that.
"About two weeks after the older camp, they gave me a ring and invited me to go to Fulham. That was quite a big shock to me as there was some really great talent at both of the camps. I was pretty stoked and also pretty surprised.
"I am looking forward to seeing the other talent invited from other countries and how they train and maybe to see the difference between New Zealand and Europe."
Mirko, who attends Tauranga Intermediate School, is the first player invited to spend time with Fulham's academy since the club established its links with the RHFA as part of its strategy of searching worldwide to identify players with potential.
"This is an incredible opportunity for Mirko and along with family and friends we would like to congratulate him on this achievement," RHFA head coach Kale Herbert said.
"Through his efforts at both camps, Mirko has shown he has the skill set required to perform in the Fulham academy environment."
Mirko started his love of football as a 3-year-old growing up in Hong Kong. When he was 6, his father took him to watch New Zealand in action at North Harbour Stadium.
"I saw the atmosphere and said it would be really cool to play in one of these stadiums one day so that I kind of where my dream really began.
"It is my passion. I really want to play for the All Whites one day."
Mirko will travel to London with his father, Oliver, who will have to stump up the travel costs.
To assist with that a Give a Little page has been set up for anyone who would like to help Mirko: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/mirko