MANCHESTER United legend Denis Irwin would have been a better player if he could have been coached at Warrington today.
The former full-back, who made 368 appearances for United as well as being capped by the Republic of Ireland, for who he played 56 times, made the admission at the launch of the Manchester United Soccer Schools (MUSS) facility at the £30 million Orford Jubilee Neighbourhood Hub.
He said: "I was brought up in Ireland, where there was virtually no coaching at all.
"If I had been able to come to a place like this at the start of my career, I would undoubtedly have been a more skilful player.
"Footballers are more skilful today - but there is still a shortage of good coaches.
"We are still playing catch-up with many other countries - and places like this will help us to make up lost ground."
The new facility is a partnership between Warrington Collegiate and MUSS and also involves LiveWire - the borough's new leisure service - Warrington Wolves, Warrington Town FC, William Beamont Sports College and others.
It offers the latest cutting edge coaching and training, not just for would-be sports coaches but also for the local community.
Collegiate principal Paul Hafren drew attention to the fact that, within the space of a few weeks, the Orford hub had been officially opened by the Queen, visited by the Olympic Torch and was now home to Manchester United Soccer Schools - "an incredibly powerful brand."
Warrington Collegiate was a vocational college and, together with MUSS would be turning out coaches with teaching qualifications.
"Despite the recession, these are exciting times for the Collegiate," he said.
MUSS head Edoardo Abis said the students who went through the soccer schools would learn to coach "the Manchester United way" and would be highly valued by employers.
The soccer schools were expanding in the UK and internationally and it was intended to forge similar partnerships with other colleges.
It was important to stress that the soccer schools main emphasis was on training coaches, not players, although there would be an undoubted spin off for some players as coaching skills could make players better.
Pictured: Denis Irwin shares a joke with soccer students.