Rooney and Gerrard’s mentor says Qatar’s youngsters on track for 2022

 03 Apr 2017 - 18:27

Rooney and Gerrard’s mentor says Qatar’s youngsters on track for 2022

By Jamie Reid | SC

One of the UK’s most renowned youth coaches has praised the work being carried out in Qatar, and complimented the country’s continued commitment to providing world-class training facilities for the next generation of talented young footballers.

Neil Dewsnip has nurtured some of the most renowned names in English football to the top of the professional game – including current and former England captains Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard. 

He has spent the past week in Qatar with the England U18s side, as they played three friendly fixtures against Qatar (twice) and Saudi Arabia.  

“We’ve stayed in the Torch Hotel at Aspire, which must be one of the world’s leading hotels,” he told “So for the players to be able to stay there has been a marvelous experience.

“Then for them to have just a short walk to what have to be the world’s most exquisite football pitches, it’s been absolutely incredible.” 

The former Everton youth coach was highly complementary about the hospitality his side had received since arriving in Qatar – and said that the country is putting all the building blocks in place to have a successful team ready for the 2022 tournament.

Dewsnip – who spent 17 years coaching Everton’s academy sides – is now based at St. George’s Park, the Football Association’s state-of-the-art academy facility in the heart of England. 

“We think we’re spoiled at St. George’s Park, but the surfaces at Aspire are even more perfect. They are truly exceptional. To have the opportunity to train on fields like that – in the climate that we have experienced – has been a good learning opportunity.”

He pointed out how facilities such as St. George’s Park and Aspire are crucial to aid the development of precocious young talent, and how it is their country’s responsibility to provide them with all the necessary tools to maximise their potential. Something, he says, Qatar is doing exceptionally. 

“We’re lucky to have our version of Aspire at home with St. George’s Park, and having such centres is obviously inspirational for all the young players that come through their doors,” he continued. 

“The mentality of the players is just as important. Once you have the talent and the attitude, you have to make sure you get everything else right too. 

“If the players are highly motivated, if the staff who are working with the national teams can get them to perform in a consistent way, then maybe Qatar could shock one or two people along the way.  

“They’re certainly being provided with everything they need from a facilities point of view.” 

And asked whether his own current crop of hopefuls had picked up any ambitions for 2022 from their trip to Qatar, Dewsnip said he was certain they had. 

“We can see Khalifa Stadium being built and it’s possible that in 2022 this group of players will be of age to be playing for England at the World Cup here. So one or two of the group might actually come back.

“That’s been a big part of the narrative of this trip for the boys. It was my opening gambit to them. You can see them thinking it through and thinking ‘why not’. It’s been a great motivator.”