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WHO ever said dreams can’t come true? Try telling that to Ruairi Croskery, who is set to embark on the chance of a lifetime after being offered a scholarship to play for his beloved Manchester United.
The Annsborough teenager, a deadly finisher in the Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez mould, has been part of the Red Devils’ Centre of Excellence in Lisburn since the tender age of nine, and five years and hundreds of goals later, well-known United scout Eddie Coulter says the talented 14-year-old has what it takes to make it to the top.
And Eddie Coulter is a man who knows talent when he sees it. Current United stars Jonny Evans and Darron Gibson, as well as ex-Reds Keith Gillespie and Killyleagh’s own David Healy are just some of the names to have benefitted from Eddie’s tutelage down the years as he helped them secure moves to the Theatre of Dreams.
Speaking to the Mourne Observer, Eddie insisted young Ruairi was “every bit as good” as Northern Ireland hero Healy at the same age.
“There’s no doubt about that,” he said. “Healy was a tremendous finisher, and so is Ruairi. He’s a natural finisher, and he’s two-footed, which you need to be in the modern game.
“He’s a nice boy too, there’s no big head or nothing. He just wants to get on with it.”
Having been offered a scholarship with United, Ruairi will travel back and forth to Manchester until he turns 16, when he will move to England permanently. However, as scout Eddie revealed, the St Malachy’s High School pupil has already caught the eye of the main man at Old Trafford.
“Sir Alex [Ferguson] watched him playing one day against Chelsea at Carrington and he liked him. The rest of the players were all 16 and Ruairi was only 14, and Ferguson told me that himself,” said Eddie.
“It’s a great opportunity for him and I hope he takes it because he’s got really good potential. They’re a good family too, really smashing people, so I’m delighted for them.”
High praise indeed, and Ruairi just can’t wait for his opportunity to become part of the world famous Manchester United story.
He said: “It’s hard to believe I’ll be a Man United player, training every day at the club. I’m just looking forward to being part of it all.”
Dad Dolen is understandably proud of his son’s achievement, and says he always believed Ruairi had the talent and the work ethic to succeed.
“He’s done well. The first year I brought him over to Lisburn he scored 76 goals that season, and Eddie approached us early about him going into the School of Excellence, and he’s really kicked on since then,” explained Dolen.
“Eddie and Tony Coulter have been a massive help too. We all owe them a debt of gratitude. We’re all United supporters. He’s going to be in with the best, and at one of the best academies for bringing boys through. If you can’t learn there as a player and an individual, you’re not going to learn anywhere.”