Two players from 7 Elite Academy in the United States were given the opportunity to play in Liverpool when they took part in pre-season training with 7EA UK - including a session with former LFC and England star Stephen Warnock.
Luke Scholes and Brandon Hernandez, who both play for 7EA's Under-14 Saba Boys in Salt Lake City, joined their UK counterparts as the academy gears up for its first season in England.
7 Elite Academy UK has been formed to give young people on Merseyside – and further beyond – the chance to follow the world-renowned 7EA coaching model.
Thousands of players have already benefitted from professional coaching with 7EA in the United States and Africa, with further expansion to Australia already planned.
Luke, who recorded a hefty 20.3 in the gruelling YoYo fitness test in Liverpool, said: “This week has been a fantastic chance for me and Brandon to discover how players in England train in pre-season.
“The standard of play is really high and every session was a new experience for us. From preparation off the field, to fitness and skills training, there was no let-up.
“It is clear to see that soccer is the number one sport for almost everyone in the UK – everywhere we went, people were talking about the new Premier League season which made it even more fun.”
Former Liverpool and England footballer Stephen Warnock was also a visitor to the training sessions, as he arrived to pass on coaching tips and give advice about a career in the professional game.
The Utah-based pair also attended the Community Shield game between Liverpool and Manchester City at Wembley, and the league opener at Anfield for Liverpool F.C. v Norwich, as part of the trip.
Brandon added: “Training with the guys in Liverpool was brilliant and they all made us feel very welcome. Their overall fitness is incredible.
“The training itself was very professional and every minute of the sessions was put to good use. I can't wait to show what I've learned when I get back to Utah.
“We were also given the chance to visit Anfield and attended a big game at Wembley. I will take some fantastic memories home with me!”
Anthony Godfrey, Global Technical Director at 7 Elite Academy, said: “We are determined to offer our young people every opportunity to sample different football environments and cultures. Not only in the UK and US, but also Africa and Australia.
“These are all important elements in the process of making sure our players develop to become good young people that will self-reflect and learn from these experiences.
"We want to continue this process with youngsters across our academy structure. It's important to take players out of their own bubble and environment for them to face new challenges and to understand the level of competition worldwide.
“Luke and Brandon were brilliant ambassadors for 7 Elite Academy and I know our players from the UK were impressed with their commitment and work ethic.
"I have been following their development on and off the pitch over the past two years and seeing the obstacles they have faced and seeing how they're currently developing, I am really, really pleased. They are two great lads."
“Along with the visit from Stephen Warnock, this was a great week. Not only for pre-season in the UK, but also in terms of laying foundations for further visits from players based at our academies across the world.
"Stephen's own academy journey was a very tough one with the major injuries he had so he knows more than most about reaching your dreams doing it the hardest way possible. His story is a great example in the type of role behaviour we seek in every 7EA player."