It must have been a real kick in the teeth for the Manchester United academy when they found out the boys of Robin van Persie, Phil Neville, Darren Fletcher and Andy Cole were enrolled in the Manchester City academy. Watford’s academy chief Chris McGuane has no such worries.
Two of Quique Sanchez Flores’ three boys are playing in the club’s youth teams on a Sunday, with 14-year-old Quique junior a particularly bright prospect. Myles Deeney plays for the club’s U7s and Tommy Smith’s son is part of the U9 team. Keeping goal for Max Smith’s team is Luiz Gomes, the son of Heurelho and a chip off the old block by the sounds of it.
“My younger one loves to play in goal,” said Gomes of his eight-year-old. “He comes to me one day and says, ‘Dad I want to be like you’. I told him I will support him all the way. I come from a little village in Brazil and my parents weren’t able to support me because they couldn’t. I can support [my boys] today in any situation. I just told him to work hard.”
Flavio, his ten-year-old son, is a striker. He and Luiz must spend hours practising against each other in the garden.
“Flavio is going on a trip with his school,” said Heurelho. “His school have a game when they are away which is important. He prefers to go to the ski trip because it is something different but the headmaster comes to me and said, ‘We need him, I am going to pay for his flight back.’ ‘That’s good,’ I say.”