Regarded as ‘Captain Fantastic’ by Leicester City FC fans, Foxes legend Steve Walsh has termed the Next Generation Cup, 2022 ‘a great tournament for Indian youngsters’. The international tournament is part of the Premier League’s partnership with Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) and has five academy teams from England, two from India, and one from South Africa currently participating in the United Kingdom. Walsh, who played for former Premier League champions Leicester City for 14 seasons has advised the emerging players to soak in the experience as much as possible.
“I think the Next Generation Cup is such a great tournament. The key is to enjoy and try and make a name for themselves. They are playing against some good quality teams, and they will learn from that. I think it must be a fantastic thing for the young players to come over from their country and actually take part in this competition,” Walsh said.
In the semi-finals, Leicester City faced Bengaluru FC at their training ground in Loughborough on Wednesday. The Foxes had romped to a six-goal lead but three goals inside seven minutes in the second half ensured the Blue Colts managed to give the English team some sort of scare as the game ended 6-3.
The former defender, who resides in Leicester confessed he has a great connection with India considering the large expat population in the Midlands city.
Walsh revealed he keeps an eye on how football in India has grown over the years and is impressed by how the Premier League and FSDL have worked together to take the sport to a whole new level.
“I have always been a keen follower of the development of Indian football, and I believe it is wonderful what is happening. I am sure the younger ones will be the biggest beneficiaries of this partnership. This gives them an opportunity to develop and learn from the lens of how youth football operates here in England,” said the 57-year-old.
Leicester City face South African side Stellenbosch in Group A Next Gen Midlands Final while Bengaluru will lock horns with another legendary English club – Nottingham Forest FC’s academy team for the third-place playoff on Saturday.
“In this trip, it will be important for the players to listen to their coaches as they would be guided on the best way to play in all the different types of formations modern football is played. The main thing is learning quickly and doing your best for your team,” Walsh concluded in his message for the emerging Indian players.
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