John Kenneth Hilton, known by his nickname Xuxuh, is no stranger to playing against tough competition, having been called up to a United States under-14 national team camp at age 11. Now 12, the Long Beach, Calif., native completed a recent training stint with the Manchester City academy by winning the tournament MVP award at the United Jeugd Cup.
In six games over two days in the Netherlands, City won all six matches against other academy teams from across Europe. Xuxuh, guest playing from his usual team in the Chivas USA academy, “blew that place up,” as Gary Kleiban, whose brother, Brian, coaches Xuxuh at Chivas, put it in a blog post.
A right back in the mold of Dani Alves, the Barcelona USA academy product stood out at the prestigious MIC Cup youth tournament earlier this year, receiving interest from Manchester United, FC Barcelona and Ajax, along with Manchester City. City got another look at him over the summer at Surf Cup in San Diego.
From there, the Manchester club invited Xuxuh to train with its academy for a week and play in the Dutch tournament in August. Watching a highlight video of him, it’s easy to see why:
From his full profile on the 3four3 website, run by Gary Kleiban:
Born to parents Kenneth Hilton, an American, and Dina Conceicao, a Brazilian, from Salvador, Brazil, Xuxuh displays the athleticism of an Western athlete with the skill and ball control of a Samba boy from South America.
Whether it’s on the soccer pitches of southern California or in the classroom, Xuxuh has a drive to compete. At the age of 10, he was challenged to win an Xbox by juggling a ball for 30 minutes straight without dropping it. The next morning he recorded his all time high of 2,845 juggles.
That skill and determination led U.S. U14 head coach Hugo Perez to select him for a training camp with the national team in April. Xuxuh follows Ben Lederman, who lives and plays at FC Barcelona’s La Masia academy, and new Real Madrid signing Joshua Pynadath as (very) young Americans who have found success in Europe.