VANCOUVER, BC – Kekuta Manneh grew up playing soccer barefooted.
As a young kid in Bakau, The Gambia, he couldn't afford to buy proper cleats and his dad spent his earnings on providing food for the family. It wasn’t until a tourist donated some gear that Manneh got his first pair. Now, he’s one of 10 players who have been “Backed by Messi” to wear the superstar’s new signature “Messi16” boots.
Adidas launched the “Backed by Messi” campaign in 2015 in celebration of Lionel Messi and “his standing as the greatest soccer player to ever grace this planet.” Here are the 10 up-and-coming talents from around the world who have been selected for this year’s campaign:
- Jean-Kévin Augustin (PSG)
- Gabriel Boschilia (AS Monaco FC)
- Davide Calabria (AC Milan)
- Kasper Dolberg (AFC Ajax)
- Nadya Karpova (Chertanovo)
- Kekuta Manneh (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
- Alex Muyl (New York Red Bulls)
- Nathan (SBV Vitesse/Chelsea FC)
- Patrick Roberts (Celtic FC/Manchester City FC)
- Chanathip Songkrasin (Muangthong United)
In addition to wearing Messi’s signature boots, the 10 players will be featured in a video series on the adidas Football YouTube channel. You can watch the first episode at the top of this page.