Harry Redknapp might not be taking a team to a major football tournament this summer but the man the FA passed over to lead England at the Euro 2012 finals in favour of Roy Hodgson will be keeping a watchful eye on the progress of his favourite team...a little closer to home!
The Tottenham Hotspur boss has given Milk Cup organisers another major shot-in-the-arm for their 30th anniversary competition by personally ensuring Spurs make a return to Northern Ireland in July.
Redknapp, who took part in the Belfast draw for the international youth event two years ago, said he was so impressed with the way the competition has developed that he believed it was important for his club to renew its ties.
“I was at the competition when West Ham were playing and it was terrific then but it has become even better over the years,” he said.
Spurs won the Premier title in 1990 when Nicky Barmby was a goalscoring star and Redknapp is proud of his former club West Ham’s record here when he was in charge at Upton Park and a teenage Joe Cole reached two finals.
Organisers have revealed that Spurs will be joined in the Premier section by Bolton Wanderers in addition to Newcastle United, Benfica, California’s South Coast Strikers, Otago from New Zealand and Norweigans Revo Express who have stepped up from the Junior event in which they made their debut last year.
“We have a strong mix of sides which is vital to ensuring the attractiveness of the Milk Cup,” says chairman Victor Leonard.
The six County teams from Northern Ireland in both Junior and Premier events will play their opening games at “home” venues within their catchment area when the event kicks off on Saturday, July 21, followed by the Welcome parade of all 48 teams through Coleraine town centre to the Showgrounds the following evening.
The draw will be staged at the BBC’s Blackstaff studios in Belfast on Friday, May 25.