HIS patronage of the Tyne and Wear youth football league has lasted 35 years and seen a select few begin the first steps on their wayto England duty.
But Sunderland businessman Russell Foster arguably saw the culmination of his sponsorship this week when FA Director of Football Sir Trevor Brooking officially opened the league’s new multimillion-pound centre at Newbottle.
Foster took the Echo’s Chris Young on a tour of the facility and discussed his continued financial backing of junior football.
THERE has always been a lineage of players graduating from the Russell Foster League to the professional game.
An elite handful – including Paul Gascoigne and Michael Gray – have gone on to earn international recognition.
But England’s friendly with France last November was a particularly poignant indicator of the league’s mark on grassroots football in the North East.
Four former Russell Foster players – Adam Johnson (Horden), Jordan Henderson (Fulwell), Stewart Downing (Seaham) and Andy Carroll (Gateshead) all featured in an England shirt, while a fifth, Michael Carrick (Chester-le-Street) was an unused substitute.
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