Texas native Keaton Parks has signed a new deal with reigning Portuguese champions Benfica.
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The 20-year-old midfielder arrived in the Portuguese capital last summer and made his debut for the first team in the Portuguese Cup in November.
He has now signed a new one-year contract extension after an impressive start to life at Benfica. Also, it’s pretty badass that he has his first name on the back of his shirt. Just saying.
Parks’ career path saw him move from Plano, Texas to Portuguese LigaPro (second tier) side Varzim in 2015 after he was scouted by Varzim after playing against them for NPSL side Liverpool Warriors, his club side in Texas.
At Varzim he made his way into their first team as a teenager in 2016-17 and that led to him joining Benfica in the summer to play for their reserve team in LigaPro.
Parks told Benfica’s website that he has been delighted with his start at the Estadio da Luz.
“I feel very good, I’m very excited to start a new stage at Benfica, to continue my journey here and to have my opportunity with the main team and the B team as I move forward,” Parks said. “As a new team, I did not have high expectations, I did not know what to expect, but it has been a fantastic experience. Playing with the reserve team and to have my chance with the main team as well: it’s been fantastic.
“Training with them every day, playing at the weekend, it has been good. The team is working well this year. We are getting to know each other, to learn how one another plays, to create chemistry in the team. It’s been a good experience. The coach helps me a lot, all the coaches help me in the B team. My colleagues talk to me a lot, they help me and I think I’ve been developing a lot since I arrived. ”
Below is a look at Parks doing his stuff in midfield for Benfica’s reserve team, scoring an equalizer from outside the box against their fierce rivals Sporting Lisbon.
Holding down a starting spot for Benfica’s reserve squad and being part of their first team is no mean feat and with the U.S. U-20 side calling up Parks for a training camp in London earlier this year, he will surely get his chance very soon for the U.S. youth national teams.
Benfica’s reputation as a breeding ground for some of the top young talent in world soccer (Angel di Maria, David Luiz and Ederson to name a few) means that Parks will likely get plenty more chances with the first team as he develops.
His aim is to keep pushing hard for a first team spot with the Portuguese giants.
“Continue in Benfica, work hard and, if everything goes well, have more opportunities in the main team, more minutes in the games and prove my quality,” Parks added.
Remember the name: Keaton Parks.