The Genk youth academy has been at the top in Europe for years now. De Bruyne, Courtois, Carrasco, Trossard,… the list of international stars that have been moulded in the Jos Vaessen Talent Academy is jaw-dropping. Now, a new generation of talents is already knocking on the door and is making a name for itself on the international stage.

In the UEFA Youth League -- the UEFA Champions League for youth teams, our Genkies regularly compete with the big boys. Last season we went out in the Round of 16 against Liverpool on penalties. Earlier this season, the Round of 16 was again reached, having, among other things, knocked out Juventus in an earlier round. Where other teams invariably opt for boys of age with sufficient strength, our team had two 15-year-olds and two 16-year-olds on the pitch in the last game against Atlético Madrid. Brad Manguelle even became the third-youngest player ever in Youth League history at the age of 14 years 10 months and 8 days. Under the leadership of Sebastien Poccognoli, the experience our boys are gaining at international level takes precedence over the result and the stress of the day.

The good results have continued throughout the Genk youth academy at present. Earlier this week, our U-19s played in the Al Abtal Cup and were, with a 4-2 win, too strong for their counterparts from Marseille. With that victory, Poccognoli’s youngsters were group winners in group B with 15 points from 15, ahead of Real Madrid and Marseille, among others.

The U-15s are currently in sunny Florida where they are participating in the Generation Adidas Cup. After finishing group winners in a group including LA Galaxy, Chicago Fire FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, they were too strong for the American side Real Salt Lake in the Round of 16, before continuing their success in the quarterfinals as they won 1-0 against CF Monterrey. On Saturday our boys will play in the semifinal against Austin at 4 PM Belgian time. You can follow the game on the website of Major League Soccer.

Next weekend, our U-12s will head to Turkey to take part in the prestigious Izmir Cup. With 72 teams from 20 countries, almost all major clubs will be represented in Turkey. In their group, our boys will compete against Bayern Munich, Leiceter City and AZ, among others.

Meanwhile, several other Genkies from our academy are on the road with their national team. For the U-16s there are no less than ten players from KRC Genk that have been called up, proof that you can't be anywhere better than in beautiful Genk to progress your football career.