A PRODIGIOUS youngster beat almost 50 top young footballers from around the world to top the league at the prestigious Bobby Charlton Football Academy.

Beauden Maloney, 11, of Burnham Road, Althorne, took home the title after attending the academy in Manchester last week.

He beat 46 other youngsters to clinch the award, beating players from big clubs from all over the world, including Japan, Spain and Sweden.

The attacking midfielder, who scored 28 goals for Mayland Village last season, is currently in the West Ham United youth training scheme, and will continue playing Sunday league football for Burnham Ramblers this season.

Dad Ricky, 47, said he had no idea the academy was a competition when he and wife Jo drove their son up to Manchester.

He said: “He is a very good player, but we did not expect this.

“We went for the soccer school but there was a competition to it, which we did not realise.

“He was judged every day on his touch, shooting, passing and ability in general.

“The presentation came on the Friday and his name was called out. He didn’t really think too much of it when it happened. I said to him ‘How do you feel?’ but he didn’t react too much.”

Beauden’s rise as a player has been extremely fast.

He only started playing when he was nine and was picked up by the Hammers after a half-term soccer school when he was ten.

Ricky said: “We put him into the West Ham soccer school where the coaches invited him to weekly training sessions every Tuesday in Wickford.

“After a while the club invited him to come into the club’s development squad.”

In September, Beauden will start his first year at Ormiston Rivers Academy in Burnham.

Although the youngster may be a future star, his dad says he will keep concentrating on school, like his three sisters and brother.

Ricky added: “We knew he was a very good player, but I think we underestimated how good he is.

“We do not want him to get too carried away and I do not want him to pin all of his hopes on being a player.

“He seems to be doing fine with that right now, he enjoys playing.

“He just wants to have the ball at his feet and to play.”