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From WNY to Munich, Buffalo's next soccer star

Posted at 6:58 PM, Jun 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-18 09:06:32-04

Leo Christiano is like most other 9-year-old boys.

“Leo is 100% ball of fire and energy,” said his father Tony.

But get him on the soccer field and he’s something special.

Why does he play soccer?

“Because I'm good at it,” said Leo.

How good?  Leo was hand-picked by one of the best soccer clubs in the world to be the only American in his 9-and-under age group to participate in the annual Bayern Munich Academy talent day in Munich, Germany.

“I've been playing soccer in this town a long time,” said Tony Christiano.  “Putting a 9-year-old in Munich is like putting a man on the moon.

Well, just call Leo, Neil Armstrong.  The feisty Buffalonian was one of 250 kids in his age group to compete in the one-day camp earlier this month.  Kids from all over Europe participated.

“They were good... in my opinion,” said Leo.

How does he think he did against them?

“Good,” he said.

Good?  He did great.  He scored goal after goal after goal. Soon the scouts started to gather.  Their interest peaked when Leo converted on the ‘Rabona’ trick shot.

Leo described the flashy goal:  “So like, the goalie passed it all the way down, I missed the touch, so I ran after it and then I just did it and scored.”

How did it feel?

“Good,” he said.

“I asked him after, why did you do that?  He goes: ‘I was just bored’,” his dad added with a laugh.

Now Leo and Tony are back home in Buffalo, with memories that will last forever.

Said Tony, “For me, I got five days with my son on a plane, locked in.  We did some homework together, we worked on a lot of things together.  It was great life experience for the two of us.”

“It was a great experience,” said Leo.

How proud does he feel?

“Really proud,” he said with a smile.

As he should be.

So what's next for Leo?  Just play in front of as many scouts and attend as many camps as possible.  His dream is to one day play professionally.  This summer he'll continue playing for Delaware Soccer Club and his Global Premier Soccer select team.

Follow Shawn Stepner on Twitter:  @StepnerWKBW