Nguyễn Đình Bắc has made rapid progress in his career to be considered national football future. VNA/VNS Photo

Five years ago, Nguyễn Đình Bắc's football dream was broken when he was told his tiny size and shape did not meet the requirements of modern football. The 14-year-old was unexpectedly sent back to school to study.

He never thought that only five years later he would become one of the most potential footballers of his generation in Việt Nam.

At age 19, Bắc is not only a regular in Quảng Nam's first team in the national league but also played in the U19, U20, U22, U23 and senior squads.

The teenager knows his dream is coming true and is determined to make it.

Dreaming big

"I was crazy about football from when I was five years old. I played with the ball anytime, at school and in my backyard," Bắc said.

Nguyễn Đình Bắc of Việt Nam (No 15) in action during the AFF U19 Football Championship in 2022. Photo courtesy of VFF

"I was enrolled to train at Sông Lam Nghệ An FC's football centre when I was 11 but cut loose after three years. It was a big shock for me. And I had to have another plan for my future."

Two years after being refused, Bắc tried his luck for the second time. He was recruited for Quảng Nam FC's junior team in 2020.

Shortly after joining the team, Bắc made incredible development in both terms of physique and technique.

"I signed a contract with the U17 team a year later and have been one of Quảng Nam players until now," said the 1.80m-tall striker.

He then became a first-team player and in the 2022-23 season, he scored eight goals and made seven assists in 14 matches. He was voted V. League 2's Best Player of the Year.

His performance helped Quảng Nam return to the premier league this season, and he has caught the eyes of national youth team head coaches who gave him a place in their line-ups in international tournaments including the AFF U19 Championship, Asian U23 Championship qualifier and Asian Games.

Coach Văn Sỹ Sơn of Quảng Nam was not surprised by his young player's progress.

Nguyễn Đình Bắc (left) vies for a ball against a player of Mongolia during the Asian Games' group round match in September in China. VNA/VNS Photo

"He is a player with rich potential, determined, ambitious and hard-working," said Sơn.

"Bắc has good physical strength, tenacity and maturity. But he has some limitations. He has to improve his heading and integrate better with his teammates. His lack of experience is also a big obstacle.

"What Bắc has achieved is all his own efforts. As a coach, I just give direction and advice so that he can improve. His outstanding performance and abilities were predicted in advance."

Watching Bắc during the first rounds of the 2023-24 season, former head coach of HCM City FC Vũ Tiến Thành said he was a player who held potential as Việt Nam's footballing future.

Future star

Team Việt Nam's coach Philippe Troussier has also been impressed with Bắc, and did not hesitate to give him a slot in the national team aiming for 2026 World Cup qualification.

Nguyễn Đình Bắc runs the ball during the Việt Nam vs Singapore match at the Asian U23 Championship qualifier in September at the Việt Trì Stadium in Phú Thọ Province, Việt Nam. VNA/VNS Photo

Despite being the most inexperienced and youngest member of the team, Bắc won Troussier's trust to play in all three friendly matches of Việt Nam during the recent FIFA calendar, which were also the team's preparation for the World Cup campaign.

“I aspire to train or play for the national team. Personally, I always practise well to adapt to the coaches' training plan. I try my best to integrate well with my seniors, looking towards our team's goal in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers," said Bắc who is a midfielder but can also double as a striker.

"Playing for the national team is an honour that makes me more confident to do my best every time I am given an opportunity."

Bắc made national headlines after his goal against the Philippines in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers in mid-November.

Nguyễn Đình Bắc hugs his head coach Philippe Troussier while his coach assistant congratulates his decisive goal in Việt Nam's 2-0 win over the Philippines at the 2026 World Cup qualifier in Manila on November 16. VNA/VNS Photo

He came from the bench, dribbled and fired a shot from around 18m in additional time to set the final score at 2-0 for Việt Nam, his first goal in his first official match with the national team.

"So far, everything seems like a dream to me. I am happy to help Quảng Nam back to the V. League 1 and seal Việt Nam's win in World Cup qualifiers," Bắc said.

"When I chose football as my career, I wished that one day I could play for the national team, but I didn't expect that day to come so soon. I have had good initial results, but I still have many things to improve. I'm not a star, so allow me to live my football life and make mistakes so that I can grow. Everything has just begun, and I need to make more efforts to be a better me in the future." VNS