A REPRESENTATIVE of The New Saints Academy had the chance to meet their footballing idols at a recent event in Wrexham.

Students at Wrexham Glyndŵr University students had the chance to see how top-level footballers deal with the media in the run-up to a crunch fixture.

Ashley Russell – in the final year of their BSc Football Coaching and the Performance Specialist studies and a coach at TNS Academy – attended an FA Wales press conference at the university.

Welsh national team players including Joe Allen, Johnny Williams, Will Vaulks and Neil Taylor faced questions from the media ahead of this weekend’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Croatia.

The Wales squad has spent the past week training at the new £5 million National Football Development Centre in Colliers Park.

Ashley, 21, found the press conference to be very eye-opening and interesting.

“It’s great to see elite performers at the top level and to see how they communicate with others away from the pitch,” he said.

“As coaches we see a lot on the pitch, so it was good to see media duties and other things away from it too.”

The students attended the press conference and had the chance to meet and have photos taken with the players afterwards.

The degree is designed in partnership with the Football Association of Wales (FAW), expanding football-specific knowledge and its application to the football environment.

Ashley added that the course had been beneficial not only to him but also to the players he coaches.

“The course has been really good, so detailed, and as a practitioner it’s great to apply the theory to your practice,” he said.

“I feel like it’s given me so many opportunities away from the university, and within it too.”

“Being part of a very close-knit group has also been great.”

An FAW spokesperson added: “The Football Association of Wales are delighted to have had two students from the BSc Football Coaching and the Performance Specialist studies join and observe the player media session for the national team at Wrexham Glyndŵr University.

“We hope that the students have gained an important insight into this particular aspect of international football, one which could possibly aid them in their future careers as coaches.”