Da’Vian Kimbrough debuts as the youngest professional soccer player

Da'vian Kimbrough, 13, holds up his jersey after signing contract with the Sacramento Republic
Da’vian Kimbrough, 13, holds up his jersey after signing a contract with the Sacramento Republic of the second-tier League Championship of the United Soccer League on Aug. 8in Sacramento.
(De Los; Paul Kitagaki Jr./AP)

The youngest professional soccer player just made his debut.

Da’Vian Kimbrough, a Sacramento native, made his official debut as the youngest professional North American athlete. Kimbrough is just 13 years, seven months and 13 days old and is already making a name for himself.

Kimbrough, a forward for the Sacramento Republic FC, came off the bench Sunday against the Las Vegas Lights in the USL Championship. Kimbrough and the team were able to win 2-0 but winning wasn’t the only highlight.

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When Kimbrough entered the game, the Sacramento Republic was already leading and there were only about four minutes left in regulation. As some of his teammates came out for substitution, they stopped to give Kimbrough a bit of encouragement. Kimbrough ran onto the pitch ready to help his team secure the victory.

“I think I was a bit nervous at first before I got subbed on, but once I got on the field at the end of the day it’s just soccer, doing what I love,” Kimbrough said, in a postgame interview with Fox40, a local news station.

Back in August, Kimbrough became the youngest American player to sign a professional first-team contract. The previous record for the youngest professional athlete in American team sports was held in 2022 by Maximo Carizzo. Carizzo played for the New York City II as a midfielder. Earlier this year, Melanie Barcenas became the youngest player to sign a professional contract in National Women’s Soccer League history with the San Diego Wave.

“It’s super exciting,” said Jessica Cervantes, Kimbrough’s mom, in an interview after officially signing with the team. “We’re so happy and honored, all the hard work he put in and for Republic to put their trust in him — we greatly appreciate it.”

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Kimbrough joined the Sacramento Republic training academy when he was 11 years old and has become accustomed to competing with athletes older than he.

Kimbrough’s mother is of Mexican descent, which makes him eligible to play for the U.S. and Mexico. He was recently called to participate in Mexico’s under-16s training camp.

Even if Kimbrough is selected to be on the Mexican team it would not prevent him from representing the USMNT’s senior roster later.

“Da’vian’s relentless pursuit of his goals has once again been rewarded with a tremendous opportunity,” said Eder Quintanilla, academy director of Republic FC, in a statement. “His continued growth and development will be challenged, but his performance on the field during academy preseason and in first-team sessions have proven him worthy of a national team call-up.”

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Kimbrough joins the ranks of other soccer athletes who have duo nationality with the U.S. and Mexico. There are many players who were born in the U.S. but have chosen to represent Mexico at the international level. Some of the players who have faced this decision have been Ricardo Pepi, Alejandro Zendejas, Veronica Perez and Bianca Sierra.

“I want to say ‘thank you’ to my parents and my grandparents for always supporting me,” Kimbrough said, in an interview.