Football Dream Arrives In Xi’an
Sharpy heads north as talent search continues.
Everton legend Graeme Sharp was once again the star guest as the Football Dream project rolled on to Xi’an on Tuesday.
Last week, the Blues' leading post-war goalscorer touched down in China to become the latest former player to assist in the Club's innovative search for the country's brightest young prospects.
Sharp's arrival saw him take over from one-time teammate Ian Snodin, who had aided Everton coaching staff in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenyang.
Having run the rule over the best players the bustling city of Chengdu had to offer, Sharp has now headed north-east to assess the talent on show in one of China's heralded ancient capitals.
"It's great to be in Xi'an," Sharp told evertonfc.com. "I really enjoyed my time in Chengdu and, most importantly, we spotted one or two players who had that little bit of quality to stand out.
“Whether they have what it takes to make it at a higher level remains to be seen, but they made the most of the opportunity we gave them and those boys will now have a chance to impress us again at a later date."
Sharp is part of a three-man scouting team which also comprises Steve Darby, a coaching expert with over 14 years' experience working in Asia, and Everton's Senior Academy Development Officer Robbie Anderson.
"What we're looking for is players who might just have what it takes to fit in and be able to compete in their age group at our Academy," explained Anderson. "It can be difficult for the lads because they simply haven't been exposed to the type of coaching that we put our young players through back at Finch Farm and I think they've been surprised by how hard we've worked them.
“We're hoping that by showing them how we do things and by putting them through drills we use, they can see the effort and ability level we expect at Everton."
The team's five-day stay in Xi'an began with a VIP tour of the city, a day out which included a visit to a 1,300-year-old pagoda, a grand religious tower where locals still pay homage to the Buddha.
As guests of honour, the trio were then treated to a private demonstration of a traditional Chinese tea-making ceremony.
And Sharp added: "We saw some fantastic sights in Chengdu and also some pandas, which was great. But Xi'an is also a great city full of history and culture and I really enjoyed getting the guided tour around.
"It gave us a good taste of life here and I'm looking forward to seeing more as the week goes on."
After Xi'an, the Football Dream project will head to its final city, Shanghai.