Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has been hailed for his ‘fantastic’ support of the Milk Cup.
Rodgers flew into Belfast to make the draw for the youth tournament, in which 44 teams will compete at Elite, Premier and Junior levels across venues in four counties in Northern Ireland.
Teams from New Zealand, Japan, Russia, North America and South America will travel here for the event which begins with a welcome parade on July 28 and ends with the finals night at Ballymena Showgrounds on August 2.
Liverpool will also be involved with Rodgers keen for the youngsters at his club to face other gifted kids from around the world.
He has long since been a fan of the Milk Cup and the positive experience it has on young footballers.
“Brendan has always been a strong supporter of the competition,” said Jim Sandford from the Milk Cup committee.
“He has been fantastic for us down the years from the time when he was a coach at Chelsea to the present day in his role as Liverpool manager.”
Rodgers, who played in three Milk Cup tournaments with Ballymena, stated: “It is a marvellous event run by dedicated volunteers who deserve all the support that can be given to continue to organise not only a great footballing spectacle but a top class visitor attraction.”
Originally the plan was that Brendan would bring former Milk Cup player Daniel Agger with him to Belfast, but young England star Raheem Sterling stepped in with the Dane unable to make the trip.
Speaking about Sterling, the Liverpool boss said: “He is an exciting young talent and an example of how good young players can achieve their ambition to play at the highest levels of the game.”
Carnlough man Rodgers inspired his team to a 6-0 win at Newcastle on Saturday following the fall out from Luis Suarez’s 10 match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. Next up for the Reds is a home Premier League game against Everton on Sunday.