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Morgan Quarry talks to BBC Wales' Gareth Lewis.
"I think the media are suffering from Hargreaves hype."
 real 14k

Jimmy Shoulder
"He is triple qualified, so the decision had to be his."
 real 14k

Tuesday, 14 August, 2001, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Lack of contact ruins Welsh chance
Owen Hargreaves
Cold shoulder: Hargreaves started his career for Wales

Wales under-21 manager Jimmy Shoulder says the loss of his job in the late 90s led to the Dragons losing the talents of Owen Hargreaves.

The Bayern Munich youngster is poised to make his England debut against Holland on Wednesday in the first step towards English qualification.

But Shoulder says the lack of contact from Wales over a three-year period probably helped the youngster, who was qualified for three countries, to make up his mind.

Shoulder was technical director of the Welsh FA when he received a call from Canada, where Hargreaves was born and brought up.

"A friend of his father rang me to say that Owen had just signed for Bayern Munich. Because he had a Welsh mother, he was eligible to play for Wales," he said.

Contacted

Shoulder quickly managed to persuade Hargreaves to play for Wales in three friendly matches on a short tour of Northern Ireland, but was replaced halfway through the Milk Cup tournament.

"Subsequently I left the employment of the Welsh FA and went to work at Swindon Town," he said.

"When Mark Hughes took over as team manager, he invited me back as under-21 coach and I immediately contacted Owen.

"He confirmed to me that between the Milk Cup and my renewed contact with him, no-one had spoken to him.

"At the time of the Milk Cup, he was playing for the Bayern youth team and I was the only one who had had contact with him. The fact that I was replaced and it was not followed up might have happened anyway.


I felt that as he became established at a club such as Bayern Munich, the chances of him opting for Wales would diminish
  Jimmy Shoulder on Owen Hargreaves

"It wasn't until I came back in that we made contact again, and by then circumstances had changed," said Shoulder, now running the youth academy at Sheffield Wednesday.

"He was playing in the first team and England had discovered he was eligible for them (his father is from Bolton).

"When I invited him to join our under-21 squad he had just been given an invitation to the England under-21 squad.

"I felt that as he became established at a club such as Bayern Munich, the chances of him opting for Wales would diminish.

"He is triple qualified, so the decision had to be his.

Strongest

"In terms of the strongest claim, I suppose the Canadians must be most disappointed because he was born there.

"But the fact that we invited him in first makes it a little bit of a disappointment that he finally plumped for England."

Canadian national manager Morgan Quarry shared Shoulder's disappointment, especially after Hargreaves was deemed surplus to requirements at an early trial.

"When he was around 16, he tried out for an under-17 team and unfortunately was cut from the side. Of course, there's plenty of speculation how that happened.

"He has developed since that time and caught a lot of people by surprise. We have an enormous amount of respect for him for being able to do that.


I believe the media has been caught up in the Hargreaves hype
  Canada manager Morgan Quarry
"There's no question that an Owen Hargreaves would have increased Canada's awareness on the international scene," added Quarry.

"A player like that playing for a country like ours would have had a big impact.

"Hopefully, he can have a long career playing for England. But I have only seen him play a couple of times and the jury's still out on that.

"I believe the media has been caught up in the Hargreaves hype and I'm waiting to see if he is good enough to play for England at senior level on a regular basis."

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