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17-year-old Julian Vazquez, after spending three years training at a boarding school, has been invited to join the Real Salt Lake team. (Real Salt Lake/Twitter)
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Julian Vazquez, 17, sacrifices everything to join Real Salt Lake

17-year-old Julian Vazquez, after spending three years training at a boarding school, has been invited to join the Real Salt Lake team. (Real Salt Lake/Twitter)

SALT LAKE CITY — Julian Vazquez gave up everything for his dream. At the age of 14, the young athlete left his home and his family, moving 800 miles away from everything he knew to train to become a professional soccer player.

But now, after three long years of hard work, all of his sacrifices are paying off. At just 17-years-old, Vazquez has become the newest member of the Real Salt Lake soccer club.

It’s an incredible story of hard work and success – and of the unimaginable sacrifices involved.

14-years-old and 800 miles from home

The Real Salt Lake Under-16 team, Julian Vazquez's team while he was at the academy, photographed in 2017. (Real Salt Lake)

The Real Salt Lake Under-16 team, Julian Vazquez’s team while he was at the academy, photographed in 2017. (Real Salt Lake)

Julian Vazquez was only 14-years-old when he left his family to pursue his dreams. He was a soccer prodigy; an incredible athlete that, as those who knew him knew, was already destined for great things.

Vazquez got the chance to enroll in Real Salt Lake Academy, a high school that would connect him with coaches who could make him the best player he could be.

There was only one problem. At the time, Real Salt Lake Academy was located in Casa Grande, Arizona – about an 800 mile drive from his home of Millville, Utah.

For Julian Vazquez, the toughest part of the decision was being apart from his older brother, JC. In a conversation with the Deseret News, Vazquez said:

“It was super difficult because my older brother was a senior in high school and it would’ve been our last year playing high school together, but I knew he supported me in my decision as well as my family.”

That decision would reverberate throughout the rest of his life. For the next three years, Vazquez lived apart from his family, pushing himself through training, separated from those he loved by a 12-hour-long drive.

Julian Vazquez’s dream comes true

Julian Vazquez in a promotional photo introducing him to the Real Salt Lake team. (Real Salt Lake/Twitter)

Julian Vazquez in a promotional photo introducing him to the Real Salt Lake team. (Real Salt Lake/Twitter)

On Saturday, though, all of Vazquez’s hard work finally paid off. During halftime at Real Salt Lake’s match against the Portland Timbers, Vazquez was introduced to the Rio Tinto Stadium’s roaring crowd as the newest member of the team.

The 17-year-old player will be only the 16th homegrown player to join the team when he starts in the 2019 season. And on top of that, he’s achieved the incredible accomplishment of going pro from the moment he stepped out of high school.

Vazquez calls the signing a dream come true:

“It’s crazy to think about, but I’ve been working very hard for this moment and always dreamt of this happening. All the hard work is showing off now.”

Since October 2017, Real Salt Lake Academy has been moved to Herriman, Utah, meaning that Utah’s next Julian Vazquez will at least be able to stay in his home state.

But Vazquez’s accomplishment and the work he put into it serve a testimony to all athletes do to make it to the top.

More to the story

What if it was you? Would you give up being near your child for three years if it meant giving them a shot at their dreams?

Dave & Dujanovic listeners called in and shared their stories and their thoughts on everything Julian Vazquez did to achieve his dream. If you missed the show, you can still hear what they had to say on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast:

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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