Golf star Graeme McDowell has told some of the world's top young footballers to “live the dream” at the Milk Cup this week.
The US Open champion opened the international youth tournament in Coleraine last night and revealed that from an early age he had dreamed of being a success in his chosen sport.
“It's good to have goals you want to achieve in life,” the Portrush man said.
“I have been a fan of this tournament since I was a young boy and I have seen some of football's biggest names come through this competition.”
McDowell, a Manchester United supporter, is hoping to get the chance to meet some of his heroes at Old Trafford in the new season.
“It would be a dream to see the players train at Carrington and say hello to some of them,” he confessed.
McDowell unfurled the Milk Cup flag at Coleraine Showgrounds and congratulated the organisers on attracting a varied entry this year.
Also joining in the celebrations was Northern Ireland's most capped player, former goalkeeper Pat Jennings.
The Newry man, who made 119 international appearances, said the Milk Cup was special to so many people across the world.
“I have been coming to it for several years and never cease to be amazed at the enthusiasm and excitement it generates,” said Jennings.
All 54 competing teams in three age groups paraded through Coleraine town centre into the ground with thousands of people lining the route.
Manchester United always draw large crowds and a trio of the clubs most controversial signings could be parading their skills at the Milk Cup this week.
The defending Premier champions initially named French midfielder Paul Pogba and Italian defenders Michele Fornasier and Alberto Massacci in their squad.
All three will be looking to make up for missing last year’s tournament due to wrangles with their former clubs over the transfer of their playing registrations.
In Pogba’s case, FIFA rejected claims by French club Le Harve that United illegally induced the player to move to Old Trafford.
United, who have signed a number of leading Italian teenagers in recent years, landed Massacci just over a year ago before he had even played for his club Empoli while Fornasier was with Fiorentina.
As things stand, nine of last year’s victorious squad look like getting the opportunity to complete a Milk Cup double.
The challengers to Manchester United's Milk Cup crown are lining up from all over the globe.
Venezuela's San Agustin hopefuls will endeavour to make their mark and so too will Brazil's Desportivo, Mechelen from Belgium and the California kids from South Coast Bayern.
There will be Spain's Barcelona-based Club Marcet, Cruz Azul of Mexico and Qatar's wonderfully impressive Aspire Academy.
Their first opponents have had a much shorter journey to the north coast, as they face County Tyrone at Ballymena Showgrounds tonight (6.00).