Liverpool, Newcastle United and England greats Kevin Keegan and Terry McDermott on Tuesday helped announce this year’s HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens will include “the most diverse” line-up in the 19-year history of the seven-a-side event with teams from Germany, Italy and France set to head to Hong Kong Football Club in May.
The HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens is the world’s best seven-a-side football tournament where fans can see the stars of tomorrow and also some of the legends of the game in one exciting event, and the 18th edition will take place this year between Friday 26 May and Sunday 28 May.
Last year, Aston Villa beat West Ham United 2-0 in the Main Cup final to win the title for a record sixth time, with fellow English sides Leicester City and Stoke City claiming the respective Shield and Plate titles.
In the Masters event for players aged over 35, Citi All Stars secured a first-ever Cup title with a 3-1 victory over 2015 champions USRC in the final.
“We are delighted to announce that this year’s HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens will be the most diverse in its entire history,” said Tournament Director Chris Plowman.
“I can tell you now that we will be seeing representation from three of continental Europe’s top leagues in Serie A in Italy, the French Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga in Germany as well as our regular visitors from the English Premier League and Scotland’s Premier League, plus teams from the K-League in South Korea, the J.League in Japan, Australia’s A-League, Singapore and, of course, Hong Kong.
“The actual clubs to compete in this year’s most international of Soccer Sevens will be confirmed over the coming weeks as we look forward to one of the most exciting line-ups that we have ever fielded in the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens.”
Both Keegan and McDermott have made the journey to Hong Kong as part of a trip aimed at promoting the Hong Kong branch of Wallsend Boys Club, which is run by exiles Tony Sealy, Neil Jensen and Chris Vale.
Wallsend Boys Club was founded in 1904 just outside of Newcastle in the North East of England and the famous club has been the birthplace for a long line of players including Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley and Michael Carrick as well as Hong Kong Football Club’s own Sealy, HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens favourite Michael Bridges and current Southampton and England goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
In total, Wallsend Boys Club have helped start the careers of 80 professionals including five England internationals, a Canada international and a New Zealand international.
“We are looking to establish exactly what we have on Tyneside in Hong Kong and give the underprivileged children the chance to play football and get them into leagues. We will supply strips from the UK and give them all the backing that we can,” said Wallsend Boys Club chairman Steve Dale.
“It would be great to see some local children from Hong Kong come through and grace the beautiful game.”
Wallsend Boys Club are also regular visitors to Hong Kong for the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens and will again be featuring in the Masters event this year as they chase an elusive first Masters Cup title having lost in the 2015 final to Hong Kong’s USRC and reached the semi-finals last year.
The complete line-up for the Masters event will also be confirmed in the coming weeks ahead of the draw in April.
“If you asked someone on the street which club has provided the most players, they wouldn’t say Newcastle United, they would say Wallsend Boys Club, which in itself tells you what a great job they have done over the years,” said Keegan.
“Not only that, the people who have come through know about life and that is important as not everyone who comes through this scheme are going to go on and become footballers, maybe they will coach, but they will certainly be better people.
“Football is the greatest game in the world and it has no class socially. If you can play football, if you try hard, you will be accepted, so from our point of view it is easy to support.”
Title sponsor Citi will continue their association with the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens for a seventh year in 2017.
“We are very happy to be able to associate with this event and be part of the team to bring this tournament to Hong Kong. The Soccer Sevens is probably, if not the only tournament that gathers so many top teams from different leagues across the globe to compete in one event over such a short period. It’s always so intense and exciting,” said Citi Hong Kong Corporate Affairs Director Wayne Fong.
“We are particularly happy to see that the line-up of teams has been consistently strong, and we were able to see some really fantastic footballers and future icons perform in Hong Kong.”