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Page last updated at 12:41 GMT, Thursday, 5 June 2008 13:41 UK

Leonard thrilled by Notts return

Mick Leonard
Leonard in action for Notts in 1984 (Getty Images)

Former Notts County keeper Mick Leonard says he is thrilled to be returning to Meadow Lane after taking up his post as director of the Centre of Excellence.

Leonard, who made 204 League appearances for County from 1979-88, has been appointed to oversee the re-launch of the club's youth scheme.

"It's a massive challenge but I'm really looking forward to it," he said.

"One of the strengths of Notts was the way they produced good players but we're having to start from scratch."

Leonard has been working as an academy director in Dubai for the past two years and before that was national goalkeeping coach for the New Zealand Football Association.

But he said the lure of returning to Meadow Lane was too strong.

Nottingham has always been regarded within football as an excellent breeding ground for promising young footballers

Mick Leonard

Leonard added: "I've taken a significant pay cut to come back to Meadow Lane but as soon as I was offered the job, I knew this was what I wanted to do.

"I'm excited about linking up again with Ian McParland and Dave Kevan and the opportunity to come back and play a part in reviving the fortunes of Notts County really appeals to me.

"It's going to take a long time to get back to anything like it was. But we have to start somewhere and that job is now under way."

Leonard's immediate challenge is to find 100 talented young players before the start of September to join the various squads, ranging from under-9s to a combined 15-16 age group.

And he added: "We've put together a steering group to oversee the running of the project, and now I need to put in place a programme of activities and find the coaches and players.

"The bottom line to it is that there are going to be some fantastic opportunities for youngsters to take the very first steps towards becoming a professional footballer.

"And although it would be wrong to fill their heads with false hope, that really is what the Centre of Excellence is all about.

"Nottingham has always been regarded within football as an excellent breeding ground for promising young footballers and I'm looking forward to getting around the schools and finding out if that is still the case."

see also
Notts Co to revive youth scheme
20 Dec 07 |  Notts County
Lee heads Notts County exit list
08 May 08 |  Notts County
Johnson wants changes at Magpies
28 Apr 08 |  Notts County

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