Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Catherine Kõrtsmik

Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Catherine Kõrtsmik

With Sporting likely to re-embrace its famous academy again after a few years of neglect, it looks like Portuguese central defender Tiago Ilori is set to play a big role the club’s future.

The 20-year-old Ilori began the 2012-13 campaign with Sporting’s B squad in the second tier before he was called up to the main squad on February 16th against Gil Vicente. Ilori scored in the 6th minute with a header off a corner for his first goal at the professional level in only his third appearance.

Ilori has been a regular starter since veteran manager Jesualdo Ferreira took over Sporting in late December. Born to a British-Nigerian father and a Portuguese mother in London, England, Ilori started playing football in the Algarve as a striker. In 2006, he was signed by Sporting’s prestigious academy and eventually converted to centre-back.

Tall at 1.90 m and thin, Ilori resembles PSG’s Tiago Silva in appearance. Portuguese daily Correio da Manhã likened his playing style and velocity to Real Madrid defender Raphaël Varane. In February 2013, it was reported that Ilori broke Sporting’s speed record in training, surpassing results set by Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo when they were with the academia.

In January, the club fought off strong attempts by Ligue 1 club Toulouse to sign Ilori. He has also drawn interest from PSG and several Premier League clubs. However, in March, the club announced that they had extended Ilori’s contract until 2015. His transfer clause is set at 30 million Euros.

Related Posts:

SPORTING LISBON: Young Players Get It Done Against Gil Vicente

PORTUGAL U-20: André Gomes, Tiago Ilori, Ricardo Pereira Named To The Portugal Squad for The Toulon Tournament

TRANSFER WINDOW: Liverpool Reportedly Offer £4million For Sporting’s Tiago Ilori

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