MORE than a hundred young Halesowen footballers came face-to-face with one of the sport’s famous names last Saturday.

Trevor Francis, the country’s first £1million player and an European Cup winner, visited Halesowen Town Colts as they trained at Earls High School.

The former Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest star signed shirts, photos and in one case a leg cast, chatted with coaches, took charge of a training drill and held a question and answer session during his two hour visit.

Francis was there to promote the FA’s Community Awards. The Colts, who train youngsters from the ages of five upwards and have almost 30 qualified coaches, won the region’s Charter Standard Development Club Award last year.

Colts under-10s coach Paul Kelsall said the youngsters — and a number of their parents — had enjoyed the visit.

He said: “He is a living legend in many ways.

“For the kids he is maybe not a recognisable face, though he certainly is for the coaches and the parents!

“Though once he started to mention what he has done in the game and who he played with, guys like Roberto Mancini, the kids got very interested.

“Winning the award last year was very important to us as we recognise our roll in the community.

“It’s all about building an environment where youngsters can come and learn the game.

“Winning is important but it’s not the be all and end all.”

Francis, who scored Forest’s goal in their 1979 European Cup final win over Malmo, went on to manage Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham.

He said: “The most common question I get asked is which team did I enjoy playing for most?

“I was fortunate enough to have a very long playing career and I played 52 times for my country.

“But the most enjoyable days were at this age. You just went out there and enjoyed it. It’s always great when you see youngsters falling in love with the game and coaches giving up their free time to teach them.”

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