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‘An incredible feeling’: USWNT prospect Lily Yohannes on life in UWCL, Ajax at age 16

Lily Yohannes is living the dream as a 16-year-old starter for UWCL and Dutch club Ajax. She spoke with The Equalizer about being the youngest-ever UWCL starter and her experience in Europe.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos - UEFA - UEFA via Getty Images

As Lily Yohannes graced the pitch under the lights in her first-ever UEFA Women’s Champions League match, one could see that a childhood dream of playing at the Johan Cruyff Arena was realized at that very moment against a top-tier opponent in Paris Saint-Germain.

This is even more surprising when you read that Yohannes has done this at the age of 16, thus becoming the youngest ever player to start a UWCL game — and hardly displaying any nerves whatsoever.

Yohannes is an American-born midfielder who plies her trade in the Netherlands by playing for AFC Ajax and has already been integrated into their first team. The American starlet moved there back in 2007, when she was merely 10 years old, initially because of her father’s job shifting them to Europe. What was supposed to be a two to three-year engagement has turned into a long-term marriage between the Yohannes family and the Netherlands. So much so that Yohannes has immersed herself completely in the Dutch culture and is currently the only foreign-born player present in a squad full of Dutch players. This speaks volumes of the talent and faith Ajax have in her. The Equalizer had a chance to speak to the young star ahead of Ajax’s UWCL game against Bayern Munich.

“I initially moved with my family to the Netherlands when I was 10, so that was around 2017,” Yohannes said. “We initially moved for my father’s work. My parents also wanted to give me and my brothers a different life experience outside in a different country, honestly. That was initially the reason why we moved to the Netherlands and that was intended for a couple of years which turned out to be longer.”

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