Stoke City star Ryan Shotton inspires academy generation

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Ryan Shotton with under 9 player Tom EvansStoke City star Ryan Shotton showed Premier League stars do more than just practise their diving skills when he appeared at an under 8 and 9s academy training session.

The defender, who came through Stoke’s Academy, believes footballers are unfairly tarnished after recent events involving high profile players.

Shotton surprised both players and parents when he arrived unannounced at Stoke’s football dome to speak to the players.

The 24-year-old took part in a question and answer session, watched youngsters train and posed for pictures with every member of Stoke’s under 8 and 9 age groups.

Shotton told StaffsLive about the good work being done behind the cameras by footballers as he watched in amazement at the young players training:

“Footballers have got a bad reputation at the moment but there are a lot of positive things that players are doing behind the scenes to try and inspire the next generation,” he said.

“It was a really enjoyable night for me personally and hopefully the boys will have been inspired by what I said to them.

“There were some great questions from the players like ‘how quick are you?’ which made me laugh.

“The quality of the young lads was unbelievable. Some of the tricks and skills they were doing I can’t even do now! Having said that, my job is to stop goals and not score them.”

Ashley Hill, Stoke City’s U6-9 academy coordinator, arranged for Shotton to come and speak to the players and was really impressed with how Shotton interacted with them.

“He didn’t have to come down to speak with the players and parents, it wasn’t arranged through the club at all.

“I just mentioned it to Ryan and he was more than willing to come down.”

Hill believes this was a training session that the players will never forget.

“The boys absolutely loved meeting Ryan and having photos with him. He showed that these big stars aren’t all the same and they do a lot of things that get no publicity.

“Ryan told the lads about his time at the academy, his best goal and jokingly told them how lightening quick he is!

“It was a great night all round and both players and parents went home with a huge smile on their face. Hopefully it will inspire the boys to follow in Ryan’s footsteps.”

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