Liverpool FC on talent hunt in Mumbai schools
Liverpool FC is always a name to reckon with, not only in England but the world over. Be it contemporary stars, like Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, or those from the bygone era, like Brian Henson, Ian Rush and Greame Souness, the former European champions have a knack of producing great players.
And, when one talks of Anfield stars, Phil Thompson cannot be missed out. A former Liverpool and England central defender, Thompson was part of the club's glorious years. He led them to the UEFA Super Cup in 1977, the European Cup in 1981 and League Cup the same year.
Following his retirement from the game, in 1985, at only 31 years of age, he juggled a few managerial roles with the club.
Currently brand ambassador for Liverpool FC, Thompson is in India to promote a club-backed football program - 'Go Forward'.
Through this initiative, talent will be spotted from a pool of 2,000 kids from 80 municipal schools of Mumbai (BMC). They boys will pass through three levels of coaching and training before 32 of them will receive rigorous training from I-League and Liverpool FC coaches.
The whole idea of this program, according to Thompson, is spotting talent. But, after that, what?
Thompson revealed that if the club come across "some exceptional talent" from the 32 trainees selected, chances are that they could receive training at any Liverpool academy.
However, he categorically stated that 'nothing is decided yet' and things could materialize only "if the player possesses required quality".
Image: Phil Thompson
'Liverpool will definitely qualify for the Champions League'
Veering towards grassroot level football in England, Thompson revealed, "In England academies were set up so we could spot the necessary talent to take forward. We wanted the kids to aspire and have passion for the game."
When reminded that the top clubs in the English Premier League have players of other nationalities making a name for themselves as opposed to English players, Thompson had his defences ready.
"We are looking at talent networking at the lower levels. We still have the required talent at the under-19, under-21 levels, and players like Andy Carroll, Jon Flannagan, Stewart Downing have shown that England will always have that big talent pool."
Being a true Liverpudlian, Thompson was optimistic about Liverpool's chances in the English Premier League this season.
"We'll definitely qualify for the Champions League. Manchester City and Tottenham look good this season, but we'll definitely finish in the top three, if not win the Premiership," he declared.
Looks like hopes of Kenny Dalglish turning around the club's fortunes just went up another notch.
Image: Phil Thompson and Sreeram Iyer, Regional COO, India and South Asia, Standard Chartered Bank, (extreme left) with the children representing Mumbai's municipal schools at the launch of the 'GO FORWARD' program at a city hotel on Wednesday