From Italy to Jubilee in a year for latest Manchester United Legend

David Johnstone, First Team Manager and Assistant Manager Richard Graham, of Moneyslane Football Club, welcome new team signing Jonny Gibson. Photo: Gary Gardiner.  IN BL WK 2814-501.
David Johnstone, First Team Manager and Assistant Manager Richard Graham, of Moneyslane Football Club, welcome new team signing Jonny Gibson. Photo: Gary Gardiner. IN BL WK 2814-501.

Less than a year after retiring from top flight football, Louis Saha will be playing in Moneyslane.

The former Manchester United and Fulham player has been announced as part of the Manchester United Legends team who will take on a Moneyslane side at Jubilee Park on Saturday 2 August.

The Legends team is said to be the strongest ever to play in Ireland with one more name as big as Saha’s hoped to be announced.

“We always knew there could be two bigger names coming,” said Slane manager David Johnstone.

“There were a number of names in the melting pot and to have Saha confirmed is a real top draw for us.

“He’s instantly recognisable. It’s phenomenal to think that someone of that stature is going to be playing in a village outside Banbridge. It’s surreal.”

Last year, Saha was playing top level football for Lazio in Serie A before announcing his retirement in August 2013.

His outing at Jubilee Park won’t be the first time he has come out of retirement as he played in a testimonial for Tottenham defender Ledley King in May, coming on as a second half substitute to score a hat-trick against current Spurs players.

“It’s so exciting for the club and for the whole community,” continued Johnstone.

“Hopefully everyone in the local football community will come and support it on the day as well. It’s very much about celebrating Mid-Ulster football. There was interest from Irish league referees but the club decided to keep it within Mid-Ulster referees and we’re conscious of doing that.

“There’s a real buzz around the club. They deserve a lot of credit for putting it on.”

Saha is one of the youngest members of the United Legends team but Slane will also be fielding some of their own club veterans.

“There will be a lot of older Moneyslane players involved,” said Johnstone. “There will be some current first and second team players along with retired players.

“It should be a competitive match and a celebration of the club down through the years. Over the past three years, it has been transformed from a village club into a real force in Mid-Ulster.

“Three years ago, Jubilee Park was just a field but the club went after the Sport NI Grant and the DARD Grant. Now we have a great pitch and changing facilities that are second to none. The changing rooms even have cubicles for each player. It’s something you’d see in the Premiership.

“It’s totally self-sufficient and it’s becoming the hub of the community with various groups such as Scouts using the facilities.”

Tickets are priced at £15 each and are available from Moneyslane FC, ­BMO Service Station (Katesbridge), ­Grahams Ice cream­ (Dromore and Rathfriland), Banbridge­ Information Centre­ (Scarva Street­), Loughbrickland­ Post Office, Loughbrickland Pharmacy­ and Mace (Dromore) and also via Paypal on the Moneyslane FC website www.moneyslanefc.com.

There will also be a black tie evening at the Europa Hotel on the evening of the game with a question and answer session with some of the United players.