In a team filled with talent, he is one of its stars.
With the Sporting Delaware under-17 traveling football team teeming with skill, ability and creativity, Jordan Illian becomes one of its new football talents.
After the Indian River High School boys’ football team led the DIAA Division II championship in 2020, the Millsboro resident scored 10 goals and 35 points to help Sporting Delaware win the Elite Clubs League (ECNL) title at Northeast conferences.
Then, after the 2021 Green & Gold team captured another Southern Division crown and advanced to the DIAA Playoffs, Illyan scored 12 goals and 31 points this spring to lead his touring team to a second straight conference flag.
This explosive forward’s extraordinary ability, creativity, and passion for football has placed him at the top of many NCAA Division I recruiting lists. He is excited about his senior year at IR where he hopes to lead the Indians to their second DIAA Division II championship in three seasons.
“Sporting Delaware taught me a lot about the pace and speed of the game,” Illyan said, adding that he appreciates the club’s training facility in Wilmington, which has a huge gym with personal trainers, physical therapy, and both indoor and outdoor fields. He said he learned more about “continuous participation in the game and my general knowledge of the game. I know these are all areas where I can continue to grow and develop. I also learned how to play in a new position in midfield last year,” he said of playing in midfield, and as a result, “I became a better defender.”
Illyan and teammate, T.J. Hastings (Appokiniminck High School in Middletown) both won ECNL First Team Northeast Division All Conference honors in 2021, with Tyler Flowers (George School in Newtown, PA) receiving recognition in the second a team of ECNL coaches’ choice. .
“It’s a very strong team with guys from all over Delaware and a few from Pennsylvania,” Illian said. “None of us are threatened by each other’s talents. Instead, he said, they developed as a team. We also know that the need for improvement is endless. We’ve put in a lot of hard work and I think it’s reflected in our ability to play together on the pitch.”
In addition to competing at a high level, Illyan also increased his football IQ while playing for the Sporting Delaware team.
“Jordan has a unique skill set and athletic ability on the pitch,” said Sporting Delaware coach Eric Temple. “His biggest improvement since he joined our team has been his ability to adapt tactically and improve decision making and game speed. Jordan has amazing athleticism and left-footedness, which makes him unique and dangerous every time he touches the ball.”
A football prodigy as, even before his high school career, Illyan was invited to study, train and play football for 12 days in Dundee, Scotland in April 2019. He returned overseas for another nine days to Manchester, England in August 2019. to play against selected English teams.
He returned from England just in time to join his 2019 IRHS team as a freshman. Illyan enters his final year in the IRHS this fall with 51 goals and 136 points. As a junior, he recorded single-season career highs in goals (22) and points (56) for the Indians, who lost 3-1 to Delmar in the DIAA quarter-finals.
As a student-athlete who keeps pace with his mentor and Indian River coach Steve Kilby, Illyan also works very well with Temple.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach Temple,” Illyan said. “He is very knowledgeable about what it takes to compete at a high level. He encourages us every day to be the best and never lets us settle for anything less. I appreciate his feedback and support as I continue to develop and become a better player. He is very supportive and resourceful in helping us learn about colleges and connect with their coaches. Coach Temple really wants us to be the best and succeed not only in football but in life.”
“My relationship with Jordan has grown, as it has with all of his teammates that I coach,” Temple said. “My biggest thanks to Jordan is his work ethic and his ability to take coaching lessons and really try to apply them to his game.”
Illyan and his Sporting Delaware teammates will travel to San Diego, California this weekend for the ECNL Nationals where they will play three games in group play. They hope to advance to Game 4, where a victory will send them to the quarter-finals of the July 15-18 national final in St. Louis, Missouri.
“During our trips to games and tournaments, our team is always together,” Illyan said. “Our team mom, Mrs. Kerry, always organizes team dinners and fun activities. I think it strengthened our bond both on and off the field. I know [this] this will be our last game together as we all go our separate ways, but I know we will all be friends for life.”