Chris Smalling took time out from his battles with United and England to aid Nike’s ongoing search for the world's best unsigned footballers.
The Reds defender was the special guest assessor at The Chance trial session in Salford on Tuesday, after an appeal was posted on United’s official Facebook Page to attract budding amateur players from the local area. Nearly 30 youngsters were put through their paces and assessed by Nike coaches using SPARQ – a ratings system which measures players’ Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness.
Dwayne Greenwood, 21, from Stretford, was the player who ultimately caught the eye, not only with his professional-level test scores but also with commanding performances in the subsequent seven-a-side games, as watched by Smalling at Salford City Stadium.
The United and England defender told ManUtd.com, “The standard was good. I watched a couple of the seven-a-side games that were going on and it was great to see the players showing off their skills and flying into tackles. It was good to see different aspects, not just technical ability on the ball but also a determination and will to win.
“Selecting a winner from all the players was a tough task, as there were a lot of talented kids. In the end, I picked Dwayne Greenwood because he had the best ability in terms of his all-round game. He was physically strong but also skilful and he seemed like he could really work for the team, running about non-stop. I think he’ll prove to be a good choice."
Greenwood’s prize is a place at The Chance’s national finals in Manchester, where three UK representatives will be selected for the global competition in Barcelona. At the end of this exciting process, Nike will assemble an elite squad of 16 unsigned players who will train with the world’s best professional teams and play against the most prestigious academy sides.
Smalling added: “No matter what happens next, I hope all the trialists I saw in Salford carry on playing football because it’s obviously a sport that they love.”