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Jackie Evans: How we instilled respect at Manchester United Academy and kept my sons Jonny and Corry grounded

 

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Jonny and Corry Evans' dad Jackie is a former Manchester United Academy coach.

Jonny and Corry Evans' dad Jackie is a former Manchester United Academy coach.

Jackie Evans in action for Crusaders during his own playing days

Jackie Evans in action for Crusaders during his own playing days

Jackie's sons Corry (left) and Jonny have gone on to achieve great things in their own careers.

Jackie's sons Corry (left) and Jonny have gone on to achieve great things in their own careers.

�William Cherry / Presseye

Jonny and Corry Evans' dad Jackie is a former Manchester United Academy coach.

Jackie Evans knows football.

Talk to him and his vast knowledge of the game is evident. The Belfast man covers all the bases in sensible, logical and caring fashion.

He was a youth team player at Chelsea and Arsenal, and a popular coach at Manchester United's Academy before taking on his current role of registered football agent.

All the while he has been proud dad to sons Corry and Jonny, Northern Ireland heroes who have enjoyed successful club careers at different levels.

From 2012, Jackie has been working with ex-Northern Ireland international Colin Murdock as part of the Murdock Sports Group. Together they have established it as one of the UK's leading agencies, with clients including United star Scott McTominay, Middlesbrough's Paddy McNair and Cardiff City winger Gavin Whyte.

Murdock says that he has never seen anyone deal with youngsters better than Evans, whose instincts are to bring out the best in people. At United, he played a key part in Marcus Rashford's development.

"I used to love the coaching at United," says Evans, who has a UEFA A Coaching Licence and a BA Honours Degree in Sports and Business Management.

"It was real. You had 120 kids who would come in every night and a system where they had to walk in and shake the hand of all the coaches.

"It was a greeting thing and vital as you could see how the boys were keeping and have banter as well. We would put on sessions, and before they would go home, they would shake the hands of the coaches again. It was good for discipline and building togetherness and rapport.

"With the agency work, I don't see it as too much different from what I was doing because, ultimately, I want to see young footballers fulfil their potential and want to help them do that. I enjoy that.

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Jackie Evans in action for Crusaders during his own playing days

Jackie Evans in action for Crusaders during his own playing days

Jackie Evans in action for Crusaders during his own playing days

 

"I watch more football than ever, from the Conference to the Premier League, and speak to the head of recruitment at clubs, chief executives, managers and assistant managers to find what they are looking for, and you need feedback on your own players to see how they're doing and what their future holds.

"It was a mutual friend that suggested Colin and myself meet up in March 2012. We hit it off quickly. When Northern Ireland people meet away from home, you tend to click, and that June we started to make it a formal partnership.

"Colin had done all his legal training and he helped me at a time when contracts were becoming a lot more difficult to get your head around. They went from being four or five pages to being booklets with legal frameworks around them concerning image rights and things like that.

"The introduction with Colin was timely and we have worked really well together ever since."

Like everyone else on the planet, Evans has worries about the coronavirus pandemic. Asked how it will impact on players' contracts and clubs, he has a simple message to those who govern football.

He says: "We are in uncharted territory around the world and in the football world. With contracts ending at different times over the next few months and no football being played, some players may find themselves in awkward places. I think everyone is going to have to be given some leeway, that's players and clubs, and financial positions including Financial Fair Play will have to be looked at.

"Associations have a major role in how they handle things. Let's be honest, with FIFA and UEFA there is a lot of money in the bank because of footballers and football clubs. I know they have a duty to look after themselves but they also have a duty to look after their members.

"If they don't, a lot of clubs could be in trouble, and football as we know it would find it hard to recover. We should all be in this together."

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Jackie's sons Corry (left) and Jonny have gone on to achieve great things in their own careers.

Jackie's sons Corry (left) and Jonny have gone on to achieve great things in their own careers.

�William Cherry / Presseye

Jackie's sons Corry (left) and Jonny have gone on to achieve great things in their own careers.

 

The Evans family have always been that way, moving from Belfast to Manchester to benefit the careers of Jonny and Corry.

"We are very proud of what they have achieved," says Jackie.

"We are also proud that they are good boys.

"They married good Northern Irish girls in Helen and Lisa, who keep them grounded. My wife Dawn and I also come from good families and we would never allow them to get above themselves, though I don't think they would anyway."

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