CHAMPIONS League finalists, international captains and Northern Irish sporting heroes! Before arriving at Inver Park, Andy Mitchell had plied his trade in England, Scotland and the Irish League. Below is his ‘Dream Team’ of players who he has shared a changing room with during his career so far.
MANAGER: Brian Kidd (Man City)
Brian managed our youth team at Man City for a year before moving up to the first team and becoming Mancini’s assistant. Some of the stories he told us about the ‘Class of 92’ were unreal and I don’t think I appreciated his influence enough as he wasn’t from my era. Looking back now, it was surreal that he was my manager!
GOALKEEPER: Loris Karius (Man City)
Loris signed for City when he was 17 and was an unbelievable keeper even at a young age. He’s had a tough time of late but is still a Liverpool player and one of the best young goalkeepers in world football.
RIGHT BACK: Kieran Trippier (Man City)
Again, I played with Kieran at City. He had everything back then, hunger, speed and an absolute wand of a right foot! A real down to earth guy who deserves all of the success coming his way.
CENTRE BACK: Shane Duffy (Northern Ireland)
Shane and I played together from U16-U21 level with Northern Ireland. What a career he is having for both club and country! Shane’s been the same height since he was about 15 but has had to work so hard on his game to become the Premier League footballer he is today. A future Republic of Ireland captain IMO!
CENTRE BACK: Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers)
During my time at Ibrox, Carlos was captain of the USA and a real top pro. He was excellent with the young lads at the club, always talking to us in training and giving tips on how to improve. Even towards the end of his career, he was always in the gym trying to improve his game. An absolute beast!
LEFT BACK: Lee Wallace (Rangers)
Again, what a guy! A real football man with plenty of experience but loves learning and talking about the game. Lee scored in the Old Firm game which I was on the bench for and is continuing to have a successful career at QPR. I still think he can go up another level and play in the Premier League!
CENTRE MIDFIELDER: Steve Davis (Rangers)
The captain of my team! My idol and I’m yet to meet anyone who has a bad word to say about him! On the day of my Rangers debut, he spoke with me the whole day to make sure I wasn’t nervous which meant a lot. Hands down the best player I’ve played with and has been successful everywhere he has played, including on the international stage. The best player I’ve ever played with!
CENTRE MIDFIELDER: Lee McCullough (Rangers)
Lee had the biggest calf muscles in football! He was unplayable at times in the Premier League with Wigan and I remember him as being strong as a bull but technically unreal. I went past him one time in training and had a laugh at him afterwards…without going into too much detail I spent the next six weeks on the treatment table!
ATTACKING MIDFIELDER: Omar Elabdellaoui (Man City)
Currently captain of Olympiakos and Norway, Omar was one of those ones at City who was destined to have a great career and he hasn’t let us down! A really talented player with fantastic feet, I think he’s played over 25 times in the Champions League against all the top players in European football.
RIGHT FORWARD: Paul Smyth (Linfield)
When I first signed for Linfield he was on fire after a really strong run of form the previous season. Paul is a great kid and is always the first one out on the training pitch and last one off it, he’s always wanting to learn and improve on his ability! I’m delighted to see him doing so well in England and breaking into the Northern Ireland squad.
CENTRE FORWARD: David Healy (Rangers)
David was another senior player at Ibrox who was great with the Northern Irish lads coming through. As a teammate he was always someone who I could speak to, then he signed me as a manager and would never talk to me! Only joking…I’ve loved my experiences with him and he’s one of the best finishers I’ve ever seen!
LEFT FORWARD: Gavin Whyte (Crusaders)
The left-hand side isn’t Gavin’s natural position, but I had to get him in! When I first came home, I was in shock at his ability to get past players time and time again. He had all the skills, goals and pace to push on and be a great player, and like Paul, he deserves all of the success coming his way.