Robbie Savage: Pundit and former Man Utd youth player eager for Super Cup NI return

The all-conquering Man Utd youth team of the early 1990s - Robbie Savage is sandwiched between David Beckham and Paul Scholes in the bottom row
The all-conquering Man Utd youth team of the early 1990s - Robbie Savage is sandwiched between David Beckham and Paul Scholes in the bottom row

Robbie Savage is relishing bringing his youth team to the Super Cup NI three decades after winning the tournament with Manchester United.

The football pundit and former Wales midfielder played in a Red Devils youth side, including David Beckham and Paul Scholes, which won in 1991.

He also watched his son Charlie play for United in the 2018 tournament.

"To play in it, to win it, to see my son in it and to manage in it - it's a dream come true," said Savage.

Savage has fond memories of playing in the famous Northern Ireland tournament, known as the Milk Cup before 2016, with a Manchester United side which also included Gary Neville and NI's Keith Gillespie.

"It was the atmosphere - the welcome that the people watching gave Manchester United because we know how big the club is around the globe and especially in Northern Ireland," he told BBC Radio Ulster's Sportsound Extra Time.

A chip off the old block - Charlie Savage puts in a strong challenge for United at the Super Cup NI two years ago
A chip off the old block - Charlie Savage puts in a strong challenge for United at the Super Cup NI two years ago

"As youngsters going there we didn't know that we would go on to great things and having amazing careers - we're talking about some of the most famous footballers in the world.

"Staying in Portrush was great fun and we had a great togetherness. We had a really good time - all the way through the competition the crowds and atmosphere were amazing with so many people wanting us to do well.

"You are playing games so regularly it's great, the amount of teams from all over the world and the different qualities they have - it just makes you want to do so well because everyone is watching.

"There are so many scouts there. If you are not already at a football academy and that includes many players from NI sides who we have seen go on to sign for professional clubs.

"It goes to show how prestigious the tournament is and the opportunities youngsters will get. Everyone knows about it around the world because it's so well run and put together and with so many nice people."

Teenage blow

Savage was released by United at 19 before going on to play for Crewe Alexandra, Leicester City, Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers and Derby County.

The 45-year-old manages the Pro Football Academy U15 side in Stockport and many of its players experienced a similar setback to Savage.

Savage, who wants to become a club manager, is entering the side in next year's Super Cup NI after the 2020 tournament was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Robbie Savage is now best known as a top pundit on television on radio
Robbie Savage is now best known as a top pundit on television on radio

"A lot of the boys who play for my team were released by clubs and told they were not good enough - it can be heartbreaking," added Savage.

"I tell them of my experiences, that the dream is never over and to look at Jamie Vardy as a great example.

"We help to rehabilitate them in terms of mental strength it might take or the physical capabilities you need. I love it, I love the coaching - at 15 they listen, they learn and take things on board and if they don't there's always someone else who wants that opportunity.

"I say to them that the Super Cup NI is is a great opportunity with scouts from all the world there. To do their best and and try to impress,

"Obviously it will be difficult with the great teams there. We'll be massive underdogs but it will be a great challenge for them and something in their young life to look forward to. We can't wait to come to the Super Cup NI - I'm really excited."

Click here to hear the full Robbie Savage interview on Sportsound Extra Time.

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