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TNS Youth have returned from a tour of Italy that began in fashion and ended in triumph, reports Dave Ardill.
The Saints enjoyed a fantastic, yet gruelling, schedule against the finest Italy had to offer.
And they remained unbeaten after draws with Juventus and Rivoli, and a win at Chisola.
Against the beautiful and inspirational backdrop of the snow-capped Alps, TNS set up camp on the edge of the Torino suburbs in the wonderfully equipped Hotel San Giorgio.
Under the guidance of Wolves coach Jamie Digwood, the squad enjoyed a varied and rich diet of Italian culture and breathtaking scenery; traditional cuisine and generous local hospitality made the stay in northern Italy an experience to remember.
An initial acclimatisation period saw visits to the Kappa factory, Juventus’ world-famous Stade delle Alpi, shopping in the impressive Turin city centre and a journey to the San Siro in world fashion capital Milan, for the Internazionale versus Bologna Serie A fixture.
In a PR masterstroke, organiser Mike Digwood of the Cambrian Academy lined up the ‘Old Lady’ of Italy, none other than Juventus FC to take on the Welsh Premier’s biggest club TNS, in their opening fixture of the ‘Italian Job’ tour 2004.
Far from the mauling expected by some, TNS ran riot and but for the woodwork could have seized a momentous victory, instead claiming a fantastic draw in the first European fixture for the newly-formed Academy side.
Not content with the performance of their lives against arguably the biggest club in Italy, Saints were pitched in against FC Rivoli less than two hours later, coming from two goals down to snatch a deserved draw in a demanding second clash in a day.
Determined to prove their worth on a unique platform, Saints excelled themselves with an organised and controlled performance against Torino feeder-club AC Chisola just two hours prior to the return flight to Stansted.
Manager Richard Edwards called for commitment and he was made proud with a 1-0 victory to round off a hugely successful debut tour for TNS Youth Academy.
Thanks go to Jamie and Mike Digwood of the Cambrian Academy for their organisation and excellent tour itinerary, Richard Edwards and Graham Bishop for their leadership, and above all, the players for the unfaltering dedication and enthusiasm.
21 April 2021
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