Belfast Telegraph

Greenisland Boys set for Real Madrid glamour match

By Stuart McKinley

Playing against the mighty Real Madrid is a dream that most, if not all, young footballers around the world hold.

Now those dreams are about to come true for two groups of players from a small village in County Antrim.

Greenisland Boys will undertake a trip of a lifetime next April when both their under-10 and under-12 teams will be heading to the Spanish capital.

And as part of the trip they will take on their young counterparts from the Spanish giants in a glamour friendly match

The club is calling it their 'Roy of the Rovers moment' and a story that is actually beyond the wildest dreams of most players.

A major fundraising effort to go towards the cost of the trip is already under way.

Greenisland's Keith Norris, who has arranged the trip to Spain through personal contacts at Real Madrid, said: "The excitement at Greenisland is, as you can imagine, fever pitch.

"This is an outstanding opportunity for the club to progress to the next level."

Greenisland's under-12s currently play in the Lisburn Junior Invitational League, while the under-10s are involved in the Irish FA's Belfast Small Sided Games programme.

The club already boasts an illustrious list of ex-players, despite only being founded in 1995.

As well as a number of top Irish League players, including goalkeepers Sean O'Neill (Crusaders) and Connor Devlin (Cliftonville), Northern Ireland internationals Jonny Evans (Manchester United), Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers) and Craig Cathcart (Blackpool) have all graduated from Greenisland Boys.

Indeed Devlin, the Evans brothers and Cathcart all went on from the club to sign contracts with Manchester United.

Current Northern Ireland under-21 captain Josh Carson, who is now with York City and under-19 international Andrew Mitchell of Rangers also earned their shot at full-time football after learning their skills as youngsters with the Greenisland club.

Jonny Evans has played for Manchester United in a Champions League tie against Real Madrid and now the next generation of players at his old club will follow in his footsteps.

As well as playing a friendly match against Real Madrid, the Greenisland youngsters will be guests of the club at their La Liga match against Almeria at the Bernabeu. They will have a guided tour of the stadium, as well as Real's training base at Valdebebas.

They will also be a match against local Madrid club Las Rozas, where the Greenisland players will also hold their training sessions during the trip.

And the Madrid games could be a shop window for some Greenisland players.

Just last week Jay Doran from the under-10 squad was selected as the Irish FA's Search for a Star competition winner ahead of almost 30 players in his age group.

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