Arsenal hero Liam Brady wants new pitches to produce next Jack Wilshere
- Credit: Arsenal Football Club/David Price
Arsenal legend Liam Brady hopes a “perfect” new football complex will propel an Islington youngster into The Gunners’ first team.
The shabby pitches on Market Road, off Caledonian Road, were given a £2.1m makeover this summer and Mr Brady officially opened it yesterday.
And the 1979 FA Cup winner, now 59, wistfully admitted: “It makes me wish I was 15 again!”
The refurbishment includes five new all-weather pitches – two full-sized and three small-sided – and a changing room building for eight teams.
Mr Brady, who played 235 league games as a midfielder for the Gunners between 1973 and 1980, said at yesterday’s opening: “When I was a kid, we played in the local park. A lot of those places have disappeared in London, so this is great.
“It’s a really important part of Islington and London: there are not many facilities like this in the city.”
Mr Brady, who until last year was director of Arsenal’s youth academy, passed on his wisdom during coaching sessions with primary school pupils, BTEC students and members of Islington’s Elfrida Society for adults with learning difficulties.
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He said: “These are the places where you find your future players. This area was Joe Cole’s (former West Ham, Chelsea and England star) patch, for example.
“We want strong local players for Arsenal and England and I think that’s on the way.
“The surfaces are perfect. Whether it’s passing drills, running with the ball or control, there’s no handicap. It’s brilliant. It makes me wish I was 15 again!
“I often drive past here on the way into London and it’s great to see the amount of people who use the place.”
The refurbishment was funded by grants from The FA, Premier League, Arsenal and Islington Council.
Mr Brady, now a club ambassador, added: “There’s a lot of money in football and some of it should go to initiatives like this. Well done to the FA, Premier League and Arsenal.”
The complex, run by Greenwich Leisure, hosts the two main leagues in the borough: Islington Midweek League and Camden and Islington Youth League. Arsenal will also run weekly sessions with schools and community groups.