When mobile phone operator Digicel joined forces with Manchester City in order to give promising youngsters from Central America the chance to compete for places at the club's academy, the man asked to find the best talent in the region was none other than Ian Rush.
Rush visited Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador and Panama. He recommended a total of six young players to participate in a 10-day trial under the watchful eye of City youth coach Paul Power at the Platt Lane academy complex.
However, a Digicel source told Goal.com that players who are deemed worthy enough to join the Sky Blues' under-16 team will not only get the opportunity to finish their studies at a local school but housing and jobs will also be provided for their parents.
The source said: “Yes, although nothing is guaranteed yet, accommodation and jobs will be provided for the parents of children who make the grade.
“The young Panamanian goalkeeper, Kevin Melgar, is attracting a great deal of interest because he is very good. He has been trained independently to the rest of the players for half our sessions sporadically. The players will be there for a few days yet.”
When asked about Rush's involvement, the source confirmed that the former Liverpool striker's only objective was to pick the players.
He said: “Ian's remit was to simply find talent. The youngsters now have the opportunity to impress the City trainers and earn the right to stay as part of the team in that category.
"Also, all the youngsters will meet the local mayor and will watch a match at home as VIP. We are also working closely with Premiership club Sunderland, but in a slightly different capacity.”
When asked about the players, coach Power confirmed that Melgar was of particular interest, and seemed impressed with the attitude of the youngsters.
He said: “Performance-wise, some of the guys are ahead of the others. Kevin Melgar is an excellent goalkeeper and he is very agile... in the shooting sessions with the rest of the boys, he made some great saves.
“The two attacking players did well today and we’ll try and get a game going soon so that we can have a good look at the defensive players.
“Again, I was very impressed with their positive attitude – especially for some of them whose first time this is leaving their country.”
Mohammed Bhana, Goal.com