Mariner looks to forge new links

Former Ipswich Town and England legend Paul Mariner finishes near the top of any poll of Town's greatest players and deservedly so, writes David Vincent.

Former Ipswich Town and England legend Paul Mariner finishes near the top of any poll of Town's greatest players and deservedly so, writes David Vincent.

He had everything a modern striker needs; pace, skill, a great first touch, he was good in the air and had an eye for goal.

He must go down as one of Town's best ever buys.

Bobby Robson snapped him up for £220,000 with two players going to Plymouth in the deal.

England could probably do with him now!

And now he is looking for stars of the future who could come to make their names at Ipswich Town.

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Mariner, who ended his playing career in the USA, has made a new career in coaching the other side of the Atlantic and is now coaching the Harvard University team. And he is using his links within the booming sport of "soccer" in the USA to identify talent for Town.

Mariner brought a Harvard University team on tour to Ipswich in August and played against a mixed reserves and youth side at the training centre.

And he is planning to return with University and younger age group teams this year.

This week he was back in Ipswich and he met up with Ipswich Town academy director Bryan Klug to talk about his plans.

Mariner has already sent several young players over to Ipswich for coaching and assessment from his own football academy system in the States.

Klug said: "It was great to see him, he is such a great character. Myself and Steve (McCall) were young players here when he was doing great things.

"He arrived from Plymouth for a fee of £220,000, a lot in those days, with two players going the other way.

"He was an excellent player and he has gone on to be a successful coach in America.

"He has always got his finger on the pulse with some very good players over there, some of whom might come to us.

"He is planning to bring teams over in the summer too, from under 11 upwards.

"Maybe they won't play at academy level but against local teams and in tournaments organised through David Brooks and the Ipswich Town community. I think they have got some really great ideas.

"Paul has got his own teams as well as the university in America.

"Football is growing there. There is such an enormous population of young players playing, the college set-up and the professional league.

"Their international team is rising and is higher in the world rankings than Scotland, for example, and they have got some very good players.

"At youth level it is very well organised and also highly ranked. And we are starting to see more US players in our leagues like Tim Howard at Manchester United.

"Hopefully he will find more young players for us to look at."

Mariner, who is in this country for a major reunion event at Plymouth, also took in the Ipswich Town first team game at Reading.

Klug added: "He is a legend at Plymouth, as he is here, and he was also going up north to see contacts there."

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