Goalkeeper scores on his international debut after being discovered by Football Manager

Goalkeeper scores on his international debut after being discovered by Football Manager

Anyone who has played Football Manager in the past can vouch that it is unparalleled in the football gaming world for the sheer volume of knowledge stored within it. Nothing gets past FM’s army of researchers, it seems. 

In recent years, Football Manager has been increasingly used as a scouting tool by club and international managers alike, particularly lower down the footballing ladder where resources are far more stretched than at the top of the game.

This summer, though, Football Manager researchers went beyond the call of duty by actually informing a national Football Association that a player in the English football league was eligible to represent them.

Kai Mckenzie-Lyle warming up for Barnet earlier this season.

Kai Mckenzie-Lyle warming up for Barnet earlier this season.

That player in question was 18-year-old goalkeeper Kai Mckenzie-Lyle of Barnet FC in League Two, who was called into the full Guyana national team squad this week – following a tip-off from Football Manager researchers – for their 2017 Caribbean Cup qualifying matches against Suriname and Jamaica.

And it is fair to say that the teenage shot-stopper made quite the impact during his first taste of international football as he incredibly managed to score a header on his debut for the nation – albeit it was a consolation strike in a narrow 3-2 defeat to Suriname.

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Mckenzie-Lyle’s exploits in the opposition penalty box caught the eye on his first appearance but it was shot-stopping abilities that impressed on his second as he saved a penalty from Shaun Francis in a 4-2 defeat to the Reggae Boyz.

While Guyana ultimately fell short in their quest to reach the last eight of the biennial Caribbean Cup, their manager Jamaal Shabazz will no doubt be delighted to have uncovered a promising player who could potentially become a key player for years to come.

So how did this incredible story come about and who exactly is Kai Mckenzie-Lyle?

Kai Mckenzie-Lyle's profile on Football Manager 2016. His heading stats might need an increase this year...

Kai Mckenzie-Lyle’s profile on Football Manager 2016. Perhaps heading stats could be added this year…

Ahead of November’s release of Football Manager 2017, researchers for the game discovered that Haringey-born Mckenzie-Lyle was eligible to play for the Golden Jaguars – currently ranked 118th in the world – and informed the Guyanese FA’s chief scout and general manager, Faisal Khan of that fact.

Khan, who has worked as an agent for UK-based agency firm Entertainment Sports Marketing Ltd for over a decade, ran the rule over the young Barnet ‘keeper during pre-season and decided to put him forward for national team selection this month.

After receiving his maiden call-up, Mckenzie-Lyle was immediately thrust into the starting XI and the decision to call him up has certainly been vindicated so far.

Mckenzie-Lyle, who has been with Barnet since 2011, will now be hoping to make an impact at club level having made just the solitary appearance for The Bees in a 3-1 defeat to Portsmouth last December.

It will be intriguing to see whether Mckenzie-Lyle can transform his international form on the domestic stage and should he force his way into Martin Allen’s first-team plans, Football Manager will certainly be due a portion of credit for their role in his amazing emergence.