By Ria Novosti
French football star Eric Cantona on Thursday likened the talent coming through in the United States to that of FC Barcelona, boldly stating the country will have a World Cup-winning team within 20 years.
The former Manchester United striker made the prediction at the Global Sports Forum in the Catalan capital.
“In 20 years this country is going to win the World Cup,” said Cantona, 45, the director of football for the New York Cosmos whose rolls include guiding talented youngsters into the game’s top echelons.
“If in 15 years this country gets to the quarterfinals or semifinals, we will be very proud of that,” he said. “I have seen nine-year-olds here do incredible things, they are really exceptional.”
Footall is making popularity inroads in America but still lags far behind the national sports of American football, basketball and baseball.
Team U.S.A. has qualified for every World Cup since 1990 after a barren 40 years century devoid of even moderate success.
Cantona scored 64 goals in 144 appearances between 1992 and 1997 for Manchester United, whose fans voted him their greatest-ever player in a subsequent United program poll.