UNITED starlet Ioan Evans got his first taste of televised international football on Friday night and has former Blades boss Gary Speed to thank for being able to join in with the national anthem.
The young central-defender, aged 16, played the full 80 minutes as the Welsh Under 16s were beaten 2-0 at Aberdeen’s Pittodrie ground in their opening game of this season’s Victory Shield.
Most parents naturally think their children are the most gifted in their respective teams but father Ian has some credibility when he judges as he is the head of Physical Education at Wath Comprehensive school.
He told The Star: “Ioan did alright. It must have been a bit nerve-racking for him but he coped fine and to play live on television is such a massive achievement.
“As a parent and as a pupil of my school, we were so pleased to see him play in such a big game.
“A lot of lads will never get the opportunity to play and get seen on that sort of scale.”
As Ioan’s mother Maria is English, he qualifies for both countries but he was proudly joining in with the national anthem despite it not being his native tongue. Ian praised former Wales and Sheffield United manager Speed for his insistence that all representatives are able to sing along with the anthem.
“When Gary was manager of Wales, he wanted all potential players to know the anthem so Ioan learned it whilst he was away,” explained Ian.
“After playing for North Wales and the development squad he’s played seven times for Wales now and regularly plays for United’s Under 16 side.”
The Victory Shield has been contested annually since the Second World War with England being largely dominant amongst the home nations. Wales’ last win came back in 2005 when they shared the trophy with England.
The likes of Mark Hughes, Ian Rush and current Arsenal midfield star Aaron Ramsey have all played in the tournament for Wales.
Ioan’s aim, according to his father, is to get into Sheffield United’s Under 18 team this season and to play against his country of birth, England, in Port Talbot on November 1.
“There’s no guarantee that he’ll be selected for the game against England so he has to keep working hard,” he said.
“Hopefully he’ll get a scholarship at United but it’s not the be all and end all if he doesn’t.”