Double winner Keith Gillespie reckons his former club Manchester United will continue to be a force at the SuperCupNI.
The ex-Northern Ireland winger, who won the international youth tournament in a United team featuring David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, last night welcomed the Old Trafford club’s return to the event after a two-year absence.
“I’m pleased they have reconsidered and come back in the Junior competition,” he said at the official launch of this summer’s 35th tournament in Ballymena.
“United have such fervent support in Northern Ireland and their teams have always been a massive draw for fans every July when the SuperCupNI kicks off.
“I know that even when they didn’t come here for a couple of years, relationships with the organisers remained strong and friendly which is a tribute to the people who run the event who I know are highly respected at United.”
Gillespie won the Junior title with Dungannon Swifts in 1989 and lifted the Premier title in the famous Manchester United side of 1991.
“It is great to see the excitement among young players preparing for the competition. I know that in Northern Ireland, representing your County at the competition is a huge honour and the goal of every schoolboy footballer.” added the ex-United and Newcastle United midfielder who was capped 86 times for his country.
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Paul Reid revealed that last year’s winners from the Premier section, O’Higgins from Chile, are back to defend their title and Right To Dream from Ghana, winners from the Junior section, are sending a team to participate in this years Premier section.
For the second year, as part of the tournament, women’s football will showcase two matches with Northern Ireland taking on Wales prior to the main competition.
“I am sure you would agree that this tournament promises to be every bit as exciting as previous years,” said Councillor Reid who also congratulated the organising committee for their hard work throughout the year to deliver this tournament.
Chairman Victor Leonard said: “We owe our supporters a huge debt of gratitude for backing us for more than three decades. This event is all about them.”