Young footballers star in Milan on their version of ‘Italian Job’

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Twelve of the region’s top young football talents have returned from an outstanding weekend of football at the AC Milan Junior Tournament in Italy.

They were selected to represent the North East of England at an international tournament in Milan following a week-long training camp at St James’ Park, Alnwick in July last year.

The Italian tournaments were held over two days at AC Milan’s Academy training ground Centro Sportivo Vismara.

Saturday’s fixtures for 13-16 year olds saw Ben Carrigan (goalkeeper), Kian Harley Gray, Marco Mackenley, Megan Sprot and Emre Yasar compete with and against 100 international players.

Ben Carrigan, goalkeeper for Alnwick Town’s U13 Pythons, was seconded at the last minute to a non-English speaking team who went on to win the tournament in a closely fought nail-biting final. He was presented with the trophy by the CEO of AC Milan Adriano Galliani.

Sunday’s tournament consisted of 22 fixtures, played by teams totalling 200 boys and girls aged 12 and under. The North-East team featured Sam Anderson (goalkeeper), Cillian Burroughs, Jamie Cooke, Adam Davidson, Blake Dytor, Rhiannon Mallaburn and Koen Ross. Rhiannon, who plays for Alnwick Town’s U11 Lionesses and Koen, from Wallsend BC, were triumphant in securing another first place trophy.

On the Saturday night, the children and their parents were guests at the San Siro Stadium in Milan to watch the Italian giants AC Milan -v- Genoa. The youngsters also took part in a parade around the stadium in front of 60,000 fans at half-time.

Stephen Patterson, Alnwick Town FC coach, said: “I was so proud to accompany these youngsters to Milan; they were excellent ambassadors for our sport and the region.

“It is experiences and achievements like these that make all the coaching and training worthwhile.”