A TEENAGER called Osama Vinladen is hoping to make his debut for Peru’s under-15 team at an international youth tournament in Argentina.
The unfortunately-named youngster has been included in his country’s provisional squad for the competition.
Osama, 14, was born just after al-Qaeda launched the 9/11 terror attacks which left nearly 3,000 people dead.
He currently plays for Union Comercio based in the city of Nueva Cajamarca in northern Peru.
The youngster – whose full name is Osama Vinladen Jimenez Lopez – has claimed his car washer dad always refused to reveal why he had named him after the terrorist leader, killed at a hideout in Pakistan in May 2011 by a US Navy Seals.
He has also admitted in interviews to being bullied at school.
He admitted recently: “I found it upsetting but I just learnt to live with it. Now I feel normal.
“I have asked my dad why he gave me this name but he always wanted to avoid talking about it.
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Perú citó a Osama Vinladen para su selección sub 15.
Dato de color al margen, el chico piensa en cambiarse el nombre cuando cumpla 18 años. pic.twitter.com/F4HDHV1ECH
— VarskySports (@VarskySports) September 29, 2017
“I have thought about changing my name. I will do so when the moment is right.”
Manager Edgar Texeira has included the attacking midfielder as one of the 31 players in the provisional squad for the Under-15 South American Championship which will take place between November 4 and 19.
The youngster, who began to play when he was nine, says he likes “organising play, getting into the box and scoring goals.”
He is nicknamed Mono – Monkey in English – on the pitch because of his speed.
The revelation Osama Vinladen could end up on the scoresheet at the prestigious tournament has sparked a wave of comment in Peru and abroad.
Mexican newspaper Debate wrote: “Osama Vinladen is alive and plays for the under-15s”, before adding: “His qualities as an attacker will determine if the young Peruvian shines through his own efforts or because of the similarity of his name to that of the founder of al-Qaeda.”
A Spanish-language US-based paper described him as a player “with a lot of weapons in his armoury”.
Another critic added on Twitter: “There were parents out there who thought Osama Vinladen was a good name for a child a year or two after 9/11?”
But Peruvian football fan Amilcar Gamarra said: “To all those who are having a laugh with the fact that Osama Vinladen has been called up to the under-15 team, don’t forget he’s only 14 and he’s being exposed to jokes he doesn’t deserve.”
Another observer tweeted in Spanish that he wants to change his name but can’t until he is 18.
Osama is not the first footballer to be ribbed over his name.
England one-cap wonder Segar Bastard, who went on to become a referee, was once included on a list of the top 20 “rude soccer players”.
The list also featured Wayne Wanklyn, who played for Reading, Celtic signing Rafael Scheidt and an Argentinian keeper once linked to Chelsea called Fabian Assman.