Everton manager David Moyes surprised Milk Cup organisers in Coleraine by admitting that he was embarrassed to be the focal point of cheering crowds as competing teams paraded through the town to the tournament's opening ceremony.
“I'm not great at walking in front of people and being the centre of attention,” said the man who has strong links with the north coast.
“This should be all about the players and I'm happy that they were being so well received too,” added the Toffees boss who took his place at the head of the parade of 46 competing teams.
“It's like a homecoming for me. My mother was from Portrush and I often come here to visit. I love the place and the people.
“I think she would be very proud of the fact that I am opening the Milk Cup.”
Moyes, whose mother Joan died a few years ago, was joined by his father, David senior, an Everton scout and other family members at Coleraine Showgrounds for the event's welcome ceremony.
He said: “My father has been coming here for years. He loves the competition and comes back telling me about players he has seen.
“This is a fabulous competition with a worldwide reputation and it is important to our club because we are big on youth development.
“Our Academy is a vital part of our club and competing at events like this is a big part of assisting players to become better.
“So many of our players have touched the tournament over the years and when you look at the players at other clubs who have made names for themselves at the Milk Cup it is impressive.”
Moyes reckons the competition, marking its 30th year, plays an important part in the tourist sector.
“I think Northern Ireland should be proud of the Milk Cup. It is not only vital for the local economy but it has a great reputation and brings people here from all over the world,” he said.
“I was amazed at the reception the players received from the crowds in the street. All the football people came out and you feel it is so important to them to give a warm welcome to their visitors.”
Everton, whose junior teams have won five Milk Cup titles down the years, have many players on their books who competed at the tournament.
Shane Duffy is an example of just what young players at the Milk Cup can achieve. Duffy scored in the senior Toffees' 1-1 draw at Motherwell on Saturday and Moyes has encouraged the hundreds of youngsters to grab the opportunity to shine this week.
“This is a fabulous competition with a worldwide reputation. It offers you a chance to shine if you work hard,” he said.
“The fact that teams from all over the world are here is great credit to the organisers who deserve to celebrate their success in sustaining a high calibre of teams over 30 years.”
Moyes father, David senior, added: “There is a great atmosphere about it.”
Thousands lined the streets of Coleraine to welcome teams from as far away as New Zealand, Japan, South America, Africa and Europe as they paraded past the statue of the competition's founding father Bertie Peacock to the Showgrounds where Moyes unfurled the Milk Cup flag.
The action started on Saturday with County teams playing at home before they arrived on the north coast.
Milk Cup chairman Victor Leonard said: “The parade was fantastic.
“People turned out in big numbers to greet the players and they lapped it up.
“For many of the competitors the opening event is a highlight that they never ever forget.”
Premier favourites Manchester United have some catching up to do today and tomorrow after a shock 2-0 defeat by County Tyrone at the weekend.
Northern Ireland conceded five against Chile at Ballymena and will find it equally as tough against Mexico in Coleraine tonight.
Milk Cup fixtures
ELITE SECTION, TODAY: 8pm - USA v Turkey (Ballymena Showgrounds); Chile v Denmark (Riada Stadium, Ballymoney); Mexico v Northern Ireland (Coleraine Showgrounds).
PREMIER SECTION, TODAY: 1.30pm - Co. Fermanagh v Otago (Castlerock); 3.30pm - Bolton Wanderers v Co. Down (Coleraine Showgrounds); 5pm - Co. Antrim v Cherry Orchard (Portrush); Co Tyrone v Co. Armagh (Broughshane); Ichifuna v Co. Londonderry (Limavady); Desportivo Brazil v Benfica (Rugby Ave Stadium); CSKA Moscow v Etoile Lusitana (Castlerock); 6pm - Manchester Utd v Revo Express (Riada Stadium); Newcastle Utd v Pachuca (Ballymena Showgrounds); 7pm - Tottenham Hotspur v South Coast Strikers (Limavady).
TOMORROW: 3.30pm - Co. Armagh v Desportivo Brazil (Portstewart); Co. Londonderry v Co. Fermanagh (Riada Stadium); 5pm - Cherry Orchard v Benfica (Broughshane); Co. Down v Revo Express (Rugby Ave. Stadium, Coleraine); South Coast Strikers v Co. Tyrone (Parker Ave., Portrush); 7pm - Etoile Lusitana v Bolton Wanderers (Limavady); Pachuca v Co. Antrim (Seahaven, Portstewart); Newcastle Utd v CSKA Moscow (Riada Stadium); Manchester Utd v Ichifuna (Ballymena Showgrounds); Tottenham Hotspur v Otago (Coleraine Showgrounds).
JUNIOR SECTION, TODAY: Noon - CSKA Moscow v Brentford (Ballymena Showgrounds 2); Hapoel Haifa v Co. Tyrone (Roe Mill); Co. Londonderry v South Coast Strikers (Anderson Pk); Co. Fermanagh v Swindon Town (The Warren, Portstewart); 1.30pm - Cruz Azul v Everton (Broughshane); Co. Antrim v Dundalk (Riada Stadium 2); North Dublin Schools v Co. Down (Rugby Ave. Stadium); Ipswich Town v Queen of the South (Portrush); 3.30pm - Watford v Co. Armagh (Anderson Pk); 7pm - Liverpool v Union Temuco (Portstewart);
TOMORROW: Noon - North Dublin Schools v Cruz Azul (Ballymena Showgrounds 2); Co. Down v Queen of the South (Limavady); Hapoel Haifa v CSKA Moscow (Anderson Pk.); Ipswich Town v Watford (The Warren); 1.30pm - Co. Armagh v Co. Tyrone (Broughshane); Dundalk v South Coast Strikers (Castlerock); Everton v Brentford (Parker Ave.); Co. Londonderry v Co. Fermanagh (Riada Stadium); 3.30pm - Union Temuco v Co. Antrim (Roe Mill); Liverpool v Swindon Town (Ballymena).
SATURDAY'S RESULTS, ELITE SECTION
Northern Ireland 3, Chile 5; Turkey 0, Mexico 5; Denmark 1, USA 0.
PREMIER SECTION: Revo Express 2, Pachuca 0; Cherry Orchard 2, South Coast Strikers 0; Co. Down 1, Etoile Lusitana 1; Co. Tyrone 2, Manchester Utd 0; Co. Antrim 0, Benfica 0; Co. Armagh 1, Tottenham Hotspur 1; Co. Fermanagh 0, Newcastle Utd 4; Otago 0, Bolton Wanderers 4; Desportivo Brazil 5 Ichifuna 2; Co. Londonderry 0, CSKA Moscow 6.
JUNIOR SECTION: Co Tyrone 0, Ipswich 2; Co. Antrim 0, Liverpool 4; Co. Armagh 2, CSKA Moscow 2; Co. Down 1, Everton 2; Co. Fermanagh 2, Cruz Azul 1; Union Temuco 1, North Dublin Schools 0; South Coast Strikers 5, Swindon Town 0; Dundalk 0, Hapoel Haifa 1; Queen of the South 0, Watford 2; Co. Londonderry 0, Brentford 2.