It has been 12 years since Brighton boy Niall Mason made the front pages for his move to Spanish giants Real Madrid and over a decade later he’s looking to establish a Premier League career.
Mason, who became Britain’s youngest ever ‘Galactico’ following his 2004 switch to the Spanish capital has come a long way from his days playing for Brighton based club Hove Rivervale. Mason back in 2004 was rewarded with a switch to European Super Club Real Madrid following an impressive showing at a coaching school.
The defender now 19, and contracted to former Premier League side Aston Villa featured for his loan side Doncaster at Crawley Town this weekend.
It was a touching moment when many of the home crowd rose to applaud the former Real Madrid man as he was substituted in the 57th Minute. Mason who has been keenly monitored by many across Sussex since his switch abroad seemed to appreciate the gesture of many in the home crowd.
Mason who is son of former Horsham manager and Lewes director of football Russell Mason has started all three of Doncaster’s games this season following his loan switch from Villa which was motivated by a desire to gain experience in the Football League.
Mason who lived in the Westdene area has had quite the sporting education as he swapped Brighton for Beckham and Rivervale for Ronaldo as he became one of three English signings the club made that summer. Mason, who like fellow signings Michael Owen and Jonathan Woodgate only spent a brief spell with the club felt the experience in Madrid has bettered him as both a person and a player. A switch to Qatar, due to his dad needing to relocate for business reasons just three years into his tutelage under the Spanish club, Mason, has admitted set him back, but the Sussex born star seems to be making a swift recovery.
Since he took the captain’s armband for Blackburn Rovers under-16s things have really looked up for Mason with Premier League giants Southampton offering him a three-year-deal. Niall also made a huge impression under Tim Sherwood, the man who made his Villa move happen.
Mason who spoke to The Argus said: “When I look back at signing for Real Madrid at that age, I think it’s quite funny – a bit outrageous,” .
“But all the experiences have helped me grow up a bit. They have also helped me football-wise. It is good to have had different influences and I’m quite mature as a player.”
Reports from the West Midlands suggest Villa have high hopes for Niall to break into the first team in the future despite all the uncertainty surrounding the club at the minute.
Mason said: “When I came to Villa I had a lot of first-team involvement with Tim Sherwood. He quite liked me. Last season I went away with them for pre-season and I got on the bench in the Premier League. But this is a good chance to get out on loan, get some football and not waste any time.”
Mason who was just 7 at the time of his Spanish switch famously shook hands with England’s international footballing icon David Beckham upon signing a contract with the giants from the Spanish capital. Mason’s recent progress makes one question what might have happened had he been able to see through his contract with Real.
His Dad, who works in event management, coached for Atletico and Getafe but found work hard to come by in Spain meaning a switch to Qatar became necessary.
He said: “At that time, coaching in this country was not so good at that age. At Madrid, they got the ball down and did technical work, which was great for Niall.”
We’ll be keeping close tabs on Niall’s progress and be hoping to see him in Brighton shirt in the Premier League in the near-future.