Ryan Benitez was guest of honour as Newcastle United Foundation the second annual Foundation Cup.
The Academy at Little Benton was the venue as 128 local schoolchildren played small sided games on Monday afternoon to try and win the competition.
After meeting the competitors and handing out medals & trophies, Rafa Benitez was asked if a young talent may be discovered at one of these invitation Foundation events:
“It’s great if you can.
“It’s not the main idea but at the same time you come across one talent nobody knew about…and then maybe he will be the new Lionel Messi!
“It (looking for local talent) has always been important but now it’s even more important with Brexit.
“It is important to bring young talent through and keep our club growing with the link between the city and the team.
“I think in the end what you are looking for in football is quality and passion.
“You have these young boys progressing and following the big names at the club and that is what you look for – passion and commitment to the club.”
Now Tuesday morning has seen the All Nigeria Soccer website report that Rafa may indeed have seen a potential star of the future.
They say that the Newcastle boss has invited Ryan Hyacinth to come along and train with the youth set-up.
The 10 year old played for the Cambois Primary School which won yesterday’s competition and it turns out his father played previously for Newcastle in the Premier League.
The All Nigeria Soccer site says that Ryan Hyacinth is the son of former left-back Celestine Babayaro.
A very decent player for Chelsea, he arrived at Newcastle in January 2005, playing 47 times for the Magpies, before leaving in January 2008 for LA Galaxy.
However, Babayaro failed to convince Newcastle fans and his attitude was often very suspect, with then Chairman Freddie Shepherd describing the defender as a ‘disgrace’.