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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 May 2007, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Nelson's challenge
By Alex Trickett

Newcastle director Jimmy Nelson smiles for the camera
The Nelson smile was in full flow on Sunday

Jimmy Nelson possesses what is quite possibly the biggest smile in the whole of the north east.

His name may not be too familiar readers - but the players he has coached in the last 25 years certainly are; Alan Shearer and Paul Gascoigne are his two most famous alumni.

And on Sunday the smile was wider than ever when the Your Game bandwagon rolled into Newcastle United's Youth Academy centre.

As well as one of Your Game's most vocal supporters, Nelson is the Academy's manager, so the event was the perfect match.

"This town is obsessed by football," said Nelson, who had spells with Gateshead, Sunderland, Ipswich and Barrow as a professional footballer in the 60s.

"My mum used to call me every night to tell me what was happening with my club, before even asking about my family.

"I've had a huge amount of pleasure from football and want to give something back. Similarly, players rely on the community so they should give back too."

Nelson was instrumental in bringing last year's Your Game final to St James Park, an event endorsed by Prime Minister-in-waiting Gordon Brown.

And he is keen to ensure Your Game in the north east gives young people the opportunity to play football despite their personal circumstances.

The women's game in action at Newcastle
Nelson wants everyone to experience the joys of playing football

"Lots of the players are struggling with unemployment or poor school attendance or problems with drink, drugs or gambling," he said.

"I like to think that being involved in this tournament gives them a mental health kick. These guys may never be as lucky as I am. They probably won't see the world through football.

"But if they can get a tiny bit of the pleasure I've had from the game then it will have been worthwhile."

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21 May 07 |  Your Game
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22 May 07 |  Your Game
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22 May 07 |  Your Game


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