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Talented freestyle footballer Jamie has a ball


Jamie Knight

Jamie Knight

Jamie Knight

Anyone who has played football at any level will recall lining up alongside a team-mate who seemed as if they needed a ball all of their own, but Castlereagh man Jamie Knight has turned it into an art-form.

One of Europe's leading freestyle footballers, Knight recently represented the United Kingdom at the Red Bull World Cup in China and admits that the traditional 11-a-side game was never for him.

"I'd just be waiting for the ball to come to me and never pass it when it did," remembered the 22-year-old.

"I found the whole thing, as well as the training, quite boring but when I'd be outside just practicing my tricks I'd be in my element."

Back then, the idea of a career as a football freestyler seemed far-fetched but Knight has come some way since perfecting keepy-uppies in his back garden.

His innovative routines, judged by a panel of three during competition with scores then compared to those of a direct opponent, have brought him on quite the journey.

The Mamba brand ambassador - a Co Antrim company that has developed a specially-designed ball for improving the skills of budding freestylers - has travelled the world showcasing his talent and even performed in front of crowds at Wembley and Manchester City's Etihad Stadium. "When I was 16 I didn't even know being a freestyle footballer was possible," said the man whose most recent YouTube video has already attracted 1.5million views.

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"I wish I had things like the Mamba ball to train with and known how important things like improving your athletic ability in the gym were."

Last weekend's World Cup, beamed to 260 million people via one of China's largest sport broadcasters, proved to be quite the experience for Knight even if he was slightly disappointed to finish in 13th place. Going head-to-head against the best in the world, he was beaten by Asian freestyle champion Philip Warren Gertsson but still managed his best-ever performance in a major competition.

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