Irish FA's new Academy can provide path to senior Northern Ireland side: Magilton
Irish FA Elite Performance Director Jim Magilton says the ultimate aim of Northern Ireland's first full-time residential Academy for young players will be to produce new faces for the senior international team.
Former Northern Ireland skipper Magilton also believes the Uefa-backed Academy will deliver "a major sea change in youth development" in the country.
International boss Michael O'Neill was the guest last night at Windsor Park to launch the Academy, based at Ulster University's Jordanstown campus.
"The ultimate aim is to produce players for Northern Ireland's senior men's team," stated Magilton. "The Academy will help to nurture talented players who are well-educated young scholars ready for a life in professional football academies, and we want to ensure these players will be ready for international football and ready to achieve their full potential.
"Hopefully the Academy will also mean a major sea change in terms of youth development.
"We have been dealing with Uefa over many years and the Academy will allow us to develop young players and give them a greater insight and depth of knowledge into what football looks like when they go across the water and what it takes.
"The moment you walk into any club in England or Scotland you are assessed, and you need to have the confidence and self-esteem to handle that.
"You also need to be able to communicate in terms of addressing coaching staff, conduct yourself around the facilities, train well and develop the strength of mind to have a career in the game. The Academy will be key to helping young players."
Olivier Doglia, Senior Football Development Manager at Uefa, who will be supporting the Academy over the next four years, said: "The aim is to have the best players here as prepared as possible. To have Michael O'Neill and Jim Magilton behind this project is very important for us."