Newcastle United winger Rolando Aarons is backing the Magpies to make an impact at this summer’s Dale Farm Milk Cup.
The Jamaican-born star was outstanding for United in the 2012 Premier final when they lost out to an impressive Desportivo side from Brazil but he has never forgotten the occasion and his week at the international youth tournament in Northern Ireland.
“It was a special time and we were proud to make the final, especially with our senior manager then, Alan Pardew, taking the time to travel over and watch us against the Brazilians,” he says.
Aarons found himself in the Newcastle United Under-21s the following season and stepped into the first team squad at the start of this season, making his debut on the opening day against Manchester City. A fortnight later he scored against Crystal Palace.
“From the excitement of the opening parade right through to our appearance in the Final on the Friday night, it was a great week to experience. It was a great tournament for me and I know those guys from the Academy will have a great time playing in the Tournament in July,” adds Aarons.
No fewer than nine more of the 2012 squad who represented the Geordies now find themselves in the Under-21s at the club.
Caretaker manager John Carver is a strong advocate of the Ulster tournament, having spent many years coaching Newcastle sides on the North Coast.
“I have very many happy memories of my visits to Northern Ireland when I was an Academy coach. The tournament provides a great opportunity for young players to gain an insight into what a professional footballer’s life will be like. To be together for a week and play against teams from all parts of the world is a great learning experience I am really pleased that our young guys in the Academy will feature in the Milk Cup again this year,” says Carver.
The North East club won the Premier title in 1985 and again in 1989 and have been beaten finalists twice.
CSKA Moscow, regulars in recent years, have confirmed their entry, bidding to complete a hat-trick of successes for Soviet sides in the section. Spartak Moscow were 2006 winners when they beat Rapid Vienna in the final and the Russian national squad defeated Feyenoord in 1995.
The Dale Farm Milk Cup begins with the traditional parade of competing teams through Coleraine on Sunday, July 26, concluding with finals night at Ballymena Showgrounds on Friday, July 31.
In addition to title sponsors Dale Farm, Northern Ireland’s largest dairy company, the Dale Farm Milk Cup is supported by the Causeway Coast and Glens Council, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Tourism Northern Ireland and DCAL, with BBC Sport NI as broadcast partners.