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Grassroots coach describes Kobbie Mainoo as 'unbelievable' talent

A former coach of England and Manchester United star Kobbie Mainoo has revealed that he was banned from winning trophies by his boyhood club due to his immense talent.

Mainoo has become one of the breakout stars of Euro 2024 and again performed well as England made it through to the semi-finals with a penalty shootout win over Switzerland.

Although the 19-year-old was sacrificed for attacking players in the second half he continued to prove himself on the big stage with an assured display.

It is a long way from where it all started at grassroots club Cheadle and Gately FC when he used to attend Sunday morning sessions as a five-year-old.

But his coach knew straight away there was something special about him.

"He was five when he first came down and started and within a couple of weeks myself and another volunteer at the time just looked at each other and said, 'Wow, this kid is unbelievable'", volunteer coach Steve Vare said.

"He was dominating games, running from one end to the other and it just became apparent that he was a fantastic young boy that had come through.

"We had to find ways to challenge him. We put some rules in games where he could only score with his left foot, he had to pass to a team-mate, all sorts of different things just to challenge and develop him.

"The drills were far too easy for him, we were fizzing passes to him and chipping them in. I would have to load all the best players onto the opposing team just to make it a challenge for him.

"At the end of the session we used to hand out trophies and I told him he'd win one every week but we have to share them out.

"Some boys or girls might have reacted differently but Kobbie always understood. He knew how good he was.

"It got to a situation where we couldn't challenge him on a Sunday morning session, he was ready to go into a professional set up at the age of five, that's how good he was."

Mainoo's rise to the top has again showcased the importance of grassroots football in this country, with Cheadle and Gatley, who have also produced professional players Hallam Hope and George Evans, providing the perfect environment for the Manchester United midfielder to begin.

"As a grassroots club and volunteers, the biggest feather in our cap is if a player goes on and makes a living out of professional football," Vare added.

"As a club we are a proud that Kobbie started with us, we are calling it 'Mainoo Mania' it just seems to have gone crazy. We are very proud and very pleased for him and his family.

A lot of players have come through grassroots set ups at some stage. The volunteers are massively important.

"It is a thankless task at times when you are running teams. You give up your time for free. For me it has to been a joy to be involved in Cheadle and Gatley.

"At times it didn't matter how busy or stressed you were during the week when you got there on the Sunday morning at 9am with 40 screaming kids it paled everything into insignificance because the joy in their faces is what you do it for.

"We have played a very small part in the early stages of his football but we are very proud of where he is today."
 

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