EVERTON academy boss Ray Hall says he is nurturing a golden generation of young Blues at Finch Farm which bodes well for the club’s future.
The Toffees Under-15 side face a dramatic must-win game against Singapore Under-16s tonight to qualify for the semi-finals of the Lion City Cup in Singapore, where they have already impressed.
And two of Neil Dewsnip’s national academy title winning U-18 side, Hallam Hope and John Lundstram, are starring for England in the U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
With his protegees earning rave-reviews on the world stage, Hall, who nurtured the early progress of Wayne Rooney, Jack Rodwell and Ross Barkley, believes Evertonians should be as proud as him.
Speaking from Singapore, the academy director said: “The trip has been fantastic. Most of the lads have not been further than North Wales before so to fly into Dubai and then on to Singapore was a fantastic experience for them.
“I have to say I have been on many tours and this is the best group I have been away with. They have been an absolute delight to work with. Anyone reading this should know that the future is okay because we have got some great kids at this club.
“They have been a dream – a credit to the club. The way they have represented Everton has been nothing short of magnificent.”
The Blues have been staying at the lavish Singapore Sports School and, with the tournament being a prestigious event in the South East Asian nation, their opening game against Brazilian favourites Flamengo was a big occasion – particularly for veteran Hall.
“The first game was terrific,” he said. “We had about three or four thousand watching at a great stadium and we walked out to the tournament anthem. It was special for my family as well as we had two mascots who were my grand nieces. That was great for our family as we are all mad Evertonians.
“The humidity when we played was 95 per cent. We started off well for the first 20 or 25 minutes, we had the better chances and there was nothing between us in the general play. But one of our young players had to come off with a head injury and it disrupted the tempo of things.
“In the second half they came on strong and had the majority of the possession. That said, we were disappointed with the goal we conceded. The lads dug in and you could not ask any more from them.”