Former professional footballer Lee Mudd is on the lookout for grassroots talent having taken up a new role with Brentford FC.
Earlier this month Newtownabbey man Mudd was appointed the League One side’s Chief Scout in Northern Ireland and he’s keen to cast his eye over any potential stars.
Working under the Bees’ Head of Academy Recruitment, Shaun O’Connor - the man who brought Jack Wilshere to Arsenal - Mudd is hoping to unearth some diamonds for the Griffin Park club.
The 32-year-old, who enjoyed spells with Stockport County, Brighton and French side Lyon, said: “I’ll be recommending players for the academy and those who would be ready to go into the first-team under Uwe Rosler.
“The club is keen to give lads the opportunity. They are pretty open to offering trials and they will get opportunities from here.”
Former Crusaders midfielder Stuart Dallas signed for Brentford in 2012 and was this week rewarded with a new contract. Others who have made the jump to turn in England include former Ballyclare Comrades full-back Michael Smith, now an integral part of the first-team squad at Bristol Rovers.
“Brentford obviously see a bit of an untapped market here in Northern Ireland,” Mudd added.
Mudd’s link to Brentford came indirectly from a spell playing in New Zealand under former Wimbledon FC boss, Bobby Gould.
When Gould, who had stayed in touch with Mudd after their time at Hawke’s Bay United, discovered Brentford had an opening for a scout based in Northern Ireland, he recommended his former player to O’Connor. Now having successfully taken up the role, Mudd can’t wait to get stuck in to the job at hand.
“It’s a role that appeals to me; being the link and giving someone a chance is a big thing so I think this will, pretty much, take up most of my time now,” he said.
Having been scouted at 15 for Stockport County, then managed by Gary Megson, Mudd is all too aware of exactly what’s required of a new recruit.
“I know what it takes, as well, that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “Temperament is a big thing. There are a lot of kids with unbelievable ability, but if a player has the right attitude it’s important.”
While Mudd’s remit covers all of Northern Ireland, having grown up in Rathcoole, he says Newtownabbey is an area he will definitely be scouring in search of the next big thing.
“I will have a look around. I was brought up here and it would be nice to give kids that sort of opportunity. Obviously if people get in contact with me it’s a big help. I’ll get around and make contact with as many local clubs as I can and see who is doing well, and see who they recommend.
“At the minute there are people who have been in contact. Four or five names have been put forward but I’ll just get around as much as I can and see as many players as I can.
He added: “I’ll just put the recommendations forward. I’ll do a report and then follow that up with a second report. The club has basically said they have put their faith in me and whoever I recommend to them, they will go on that and, minimum, they will get a week or two weeks’ trial.”