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How Micah Hamilton Went From Fetching Balls To Finding The Net

How Micah Hamilton Went From Fetching Balls To Finding The Net

Manchester City cruised into the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League in style as they won 3-2 away at Serbian side Red Star Belgrade (or Crvena zvezda), making it six wins out of six in the group stage. Micah Hamilton, Oscar Bobb, and Kalvin Phillips got themselves on the scoresheet for the visitors.

The scorer of the opening goal, Hamilton, is now revealed to having been a ball boy at the Etihad Stadium in what is surely one of the most interesting footballing epiphanies in recent times.

Photos of Man City boss Pep Guardiola instructing a ball boy (Hamilton) to speed things up after the ball would go out of play in a Premier League game against Crystal Palace in 2017 are now making the rounds on social media.

Sam Lee, The Athletic’s Manchester City correspondent, posted a tweet on (formerly Twitter) ahead of Man City’s Champions League encounter in Belgrade on Wednesday night (13th December) where he shared the photo of Pep chirping instructions in Hamilton’s ears and gave an explanation regarding what and why he instructed the ball boy to do.

Fast forward to six years later, and the effervescent 20-year-old Hamilton made his first-team debut for City on a Champions League night where he got a goal on debut after being named in the starting XI.

City and Pep had nothing to lose ahead of their game at the Red Star Stadium since they had already sealed the top spot in the group and, thus, their spot in the Round of 16 after winning the first five games.

Given that this game’s result bore no consequence, Pep decided to name a second-string side and handed out rare starts to youngsters Sergio Gomez, Oscar Bobb (who also got a goal), and Micah Hamilton, as well as second-choice keeper Stefan Ortega.

Hamilton started on the right side of the attack in a 4-2-3-1 formation and played the entire 90 minutes on his competitive debut. While he opened the scoring with a very good finish, he also won a penalty that was later converted by peripheral figure Phillips.

In the post-match press conference, one of the reporters showed Pep the same photo of him and Hamilton from the 2017 Crystal Palace game. Upon learning that the ball boy had now become the player to put the ball in the back of the net after being handed his debut, the former Barcelona boss was pleasantly surprised.

I didn’t know! Six years ago? He grew up, huh? Wow, what a goal! What a game. I’m so happy for him. He’s training quite often with us, we saw his skills up front one against one and he made a fantastic goal and penalty, and when he could not be one against one he gave extra passes. Defensively he was aggressive. Congratulations to the academy over the last [few] years.

– Pep Guardiola lauding Micah Hamilton’s performance on debut

Hamilton was also left speechless following his own performance and stated that the feeling of scoring on his debut, in a Champions League game at that, had “not sunk in yet.”

I don’t even know what to say. I started just trying to ease into the game and then the moment came and I just took the opportunity. I didn’t know what to do to celebrate! It’s not even sunk in yet. I’m just taking it all in. It’s amazing.

– Micah Hamilton lost for words following a memorable Man City debut

Hamilton joined the City Football Academy at the age of nine in 2013 and rose through the ranks in the club’s youth setup, making a name for himself for the U18 side. He scored 11 goals and had a further eight assists from 22 league appearances during the 2020-21 season for the U18s.

His performances finally bore fruit as he received his first-ever first team call up for an EFL Cup tie against Newcastle United in September 2023.

With his performance on his debut, Pep will certainly be giving more minutes to the youngster in the following months before he is given the chance to become a first-team regular. The Cityzens will definitely want to see more of him in the coming weeks, perhaps even in the next game itself.

If his Champions League debut is anything to go by, Hamilton has a very bright future ahead of him. No doubt.