Just hours before he hit headlines around the world and was announced as first-team coach of Manchester United, Mike Phelan was putting talented young footballers at Burnley College Sixth Form Centre through their paces.
The Nelson-born professional stepped into one of the top jobs in international football just hours after manager Jose Mourinho was sacked and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was handed the caretaker role.
Mike had been invited to spend the day at Burnley College Sixth Form Centre coaching Academy of
Sport footballers and Elite Athletes, as well as taking part in a question-and-answer session with the
wider student body.
Ashley Alderson, manager of the Academy of Sport and Elite Athlete programme at the college,
which has a strong reputation for producing athletes who compete on a national and international
stage, said: “It was great to welcome Mike Phelan to college.
It was a truly unforgettable experience for our committed Academy of Sport footballers and the staff who work with them on a daily basis.
"How many footballers can say they have been through a training session with Manchester United’s first-team coach?
“Mike’s expertise and talent shone through in the session and he certainly got the very best out of our footballers.
"They’ve learnt lessons today which will last a lifetime and our coaches also picked up some valuable tips that they can use going forward, too.
“It’s through the strong industry links and contacts that we, as a college, can attract such a big name as Mike Phelan.
"Professionalism and preparation for a career in the sports industry is at the very heart of the Academy of Sport and Elite Athlete programme and what better people to guide you towards your goals than former professionals such as Andy Payton, Gerry Harrison and Dave Horrocks?”
During his day-long visit, Mike toured the college’s state-of-the-art sports facilities, including its high-tech performance lab where athletes can monitor their fitness levels through a barrage of gruelling tests, to its all-weather pitches and gym packed with the very latest fitness equipment.
He also took the opportunity to tour the college and took time out to chat to staff about the college’s ethos of
building future and changing lives.
Mike said:“It’s been a real privilege to be invited to Burnley College Sixth Form Centre today and see the depth of talent here – from the Academy of Sport players to the Elite Athletes and the wider student body who really grilled me at my question-and-answer sessions.
“Putting the young footballers through their paces, I saw some real talent and I’m sure that I’ve worked with some young footballers today who will go on to make a successful career in the sports industry, whether that’s on the pitch or in a vital support role at a professional club.
“What became clear to me was a sense of passion and commitment shown by each young athlete, a shared determination to be the very best.
"That’s in no small part due to the exceptional standard of coaching and training they receive from some truly outstanding staff here at Burnley College Sixth Form Centre. As a young athlete, to have access to the
insight and skills or former professional footballers and one of the UK’s top strength and
conditioning coaches blows me away.
"These coaches are truly inspirational and run the Academy of Sport and Elite Athlete programme like a professional club.
“What young athlete – whether that’s a footballer, netball player or even hammer thrower
– would not benefit from this?”