SPECTATORS at The New Saints Park Hall ground would have recognised a familiar face in the stand as Wales international football manager, Gary Speed, dropped in at The Venue last Thursday night.
The 85-time Wales cap, who masterminded the Welsh side’s eye-catching Euro 2012 qualifying performance against England to follow their win over Montenegro last month, dropped in to cast his rule over the stars of tomorrow as The New Saints Under 15s side played against their North Wales counterparts which fielded two TNS Academy players to underline the strength of the development set-up at the club.
Speed appears to be keeping tabs on the club’s efforts after he recently spoke out on his admiration for The New Saints Academy when he visited the area in August, saying: “The New Saints are gradually building a strong Academy which is a great foundation to have at any club.
“TNS regularly have players selected for Wales Under 19 and Under 23 semi-professional squads and as the development process continues players at the club could well find themselves in contention for full international selection in the future.
“The experience the club can offer by qualifying for European competitions each season is a great asset and a natural progression for its players,” he added.
Saints chairman, Mike Harris, who was also present to watch the TNS Academy’s youngsters pit their wits against some of the best Under 15s players Wales has to offer, including the two New Saints selections, said: “This club aims to be a football factory with a reputation for producing the best players for a 50-mile radius.
“The determination amongst staff here to make that happen is unrivalled and the facilities we can offer youngsters at the club are superb.
“That has had a positive impact on the opportunities available to our young players, such as their inclusion in Welsh squads such as this and the success of various age groups on the field,” he added.