All students at the i2i International Soccer Academy train like full-time professionals five days a week with our UEFA licensed coaches who have previously worked and played at the top clubs around Europe.
i2i International Soccer Academy Coaching Staff
Bryan Hughes - Head of Coaching
Bryan is a former professional football player who played in the English Premier League with Birmingham City, Charlton Athletic and Hull City. In a career spanning three decades, Bryan made nearly 500 pro appearances - playing against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham on a weekly basis. As well as being the first player to score a goal in the new Millenium, Bryan can also lay claim to scoring a winning penalty for Charlton against Chelsea in one of Jose Mourinho’s very few defeats at Stamford Bridge. As a UEFA A licensed coach, Bryan’s role is to oversee the pro-level coaching programme. He acts as a mentor for students on our programme.
Michael Ingham - Head of Goalkeeping
Michael is a professional goalkeeper who has made over 400 appearances for clubs such as Sunderland, Stoke City and York City. Michael’s illustrious career spans over seventeen years and has won two trophies. During his nine years at York City, Michael kept an extremely impressive 116 clean sheets in 326 games. Michael represented his country Northern Ireland from U18’s level all the way up to senior level playing against talented nations like Germany, Uruguay and Wales in International fixtures. Michael is a qualified UEFA A license coach who has recently worked with York City’s Academy Goalkeepers.
Colin Cooper - Coach
Colin Cooper, is a former professional footballer and A/Pro license coach. With an illustrious two-decade playing career for clubs like Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough, Cooper brings over 10 years of coaching experience. His international journey includes playing against football legends like Ronaldo and Beckham while representing England in 1995. Post-retirement, Cooper held coaching roles at clubs such as Middlesbrough, Hartlepool United, and Bradford City. Notably, he served as Assistant Manager under Gareth Southgate. With experience at the English FA and Chinese FA, Cooper is set to share invaluable insights with our student athletes.
Lee Nogan - Coach
Lee is a former professional footballer who in total made over 580 appearances in a career spanning over 18 years for clubs such as Watford, Reading, Oxford United and York City. Lee was a clinical striker who scored 117 goals, one of which coming in a Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium for Reading. Lee also represented his country Wales from youth level all the way up to the senior squad. Lee is a qualified UEFA A license coach who has worked at Port Vale, Halifax Town and Gateshead as Assistant Manager.
Jason Blunt - Coach
Jason began his playing career with Leeds United, making a handful of first-team appearances in the Premier League for the club, making his first team debut under Howard Wilkinson. Jason went onto play for clubs such as Blackpool, Scarborough, Doncaster Rovers and Tamworth before securing his UEFA A coaching license. Jason has extensive coaching and managerial experience boosting impressive roles as Sutton United and Leeds United U23 manager.
Lee Makel - Coach
Lee is a former professional footballer who made over 380 appearances in the game playing for the likes of Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers, Huddersfield Town and Bradford City. Lee was part of the Blackburn Rovers squad that won the Premier League in 1994/1995 alongside Alan Shearer and managed by former Liverpool legend; Kenny Dalglish.
Darren Williams - Coach
Williams began his career at York City and made his name at Sunderland in the English Premier League for whom he signed in 1996. He moved to Cardiff City in 2004, then on Hartlepool United in 2005, and played for Bradford City during the 2007–08 season. He went on to play with Dundee, Gateshead and Gainsborough Trinity before joining Whitby. Darren is a UEFA A license coach and has also managed semi-professional team Whitby Town.
Stu Brightwell - Coach
Stuart started his career out at none other than Manchester United playing in their youth system before moving onto a more local side for him in Hartlepool United. The midfielder also featured for Spennymoor United before heading stateside to play in the USL impressing with the Carolina Railhawks playing 25 times.
Andy Wright - Coach
Andy Wright, once a dynamic winger at Leeds United alongside internationals like Paul Robinson and Harry Kewell, transitioned through the England setup at Lilleshall. His playing career extended to Reading and Eredivisie's Fortuna Sittard in the Netherlands. Post-retirement, he ventured into coaching, contributing to the academies of Sunderland and his alma mater, Leeds United. Since 2022, Andy has been a valuable addition to the i2i team
Tom Butler - Coach
Tommy is renowned for his fantastic playing career, started at Sunderland, where he was considered one of Ireland's brightest talents. An energetic wide-man, he spent six years with Sunderland before joining Dunfermline Athletic and later impressing at Hartlepool United. A pivotal six-year stint at Swansea City saw him make 126 appearances, contributing to their promotion from League One to the EFL Championship. Tommy, who represented Ireland at age group and senior levels with 18 international appearances, transitioned into coaching post-playing career. Taking charge of Newcastle United Women’s FC.
Neil Ross - Coach
Neil started out as a professional player himself at Leeds United in 1998 before moving on to the likes of Stockport County, Bristol Rovers and a spell in the Chinese top division. After hanging up his boots in 2011, Neil took the natural progression into coaching as he became manager of Leeds United Ladies before moving into the men’s game to manage Farsley Celtic. Throughout his career Neil has worked alongside extremely experienced managers including David O’Leary, Chris Wilder, Carlton Palmer and Gerry Francis. Neil’s most recent role was out in Gibraltar as Assistant Head Coach at FCB Magpies who played in the Europa Conference League.
Nicky Deverdics - Coach
Nicky is a professional footballer who graduated out of the world famous Newcastle United Academy and featured for some fantastic clubs throughout his career including the likes of Hartlepool United, Wrexham, Barnet, Gretna, Dover Athletic and Gateshead. Nicky brings a real passion and energetic vibe to the team with his enthusiastic coaching style.
Ian Aitken - Goalkeeping Coach
Ian is a UEFA B licensed coach and during his career has worked with Newcastle United’s Academy and Newcastle United Women. Ian has a wealth of experience behind him as both a player and a coach. He made over 600 appearances as a goalkeeper for the likes of Gateshead, Gretna and Harrogate Town. Ian is also current Goalkeeper Coach at National League North side Blyth Spartans alongside fellow i2i coach Nicky Deverdics.
Nick Buxton - Goalkeeping Coach
Nick has played Pro and Semi-Pro for over 2 decades, Representing clubs like Doncaster Rovers and Halifax Town, he made significant contributions to the game. Transitioning into coaching, Nick started at Matlock Town and later became the Goalkeeper Coach at Doncaster Rovers' academy and Scunthorpe United. In women's football, Nick took on managerial responsibilities with Doncaster Rovers Belles in September 2022, achieving a remarkable second-place finish in the fourth tier. Under his guidance, the team reached the finals of the Sheffield and Hallamshire County Cup, marking a historic moment after a decade.
Chris Holloway - Coach
Chris is an experienced football coach who spent 20 years working at West Bromwich Albion as a development officer for the community programme and academy on top of managing the Ladies team. Following on from this stint, Chris moved on to Coventry City to also work with the Ladies team before moving up north to York City, taking on an academy role there. After a 24-month spell at Bootham Crescent, Chris then went to another Yorkshire club in Doncaster Rovers and enjoyed another two-year spell there before deciding to join the i2i International Soccer Academy.
Paul Bryson - Coach
Paul brings a wealth of experience to our coaching team up at Northumbria University after spending 20 years as an U18 Academy Coach at Sunderland AFC. During his time with the Black Cats he helped develop the game of Premier League and Champions League winner Jordan Henderson, now the captain of Liverpool. Paul also enjoyed a lengthy stint leading the National College team for 8 years. Along with Henderson, he also helped nurture the likes of Chris Basham (Sheffield United), Adam Reach (Sheffield Wednesday), Martyn Waghorn (Derby County) and Sam Greenwood (Leeds United).
Chris Fairless - Lead Coach Female
Chris is the first ever lead coach of the i2i International Women’s Soccer Academy and brings a tremendous amount of experience with him after being Assistant Manager at Middlesbrough Women for over two years. Chris also has experience working in the Men’s game with Championship club Middlesbrough coaching their Academy.
Ben Carr - Coach
Ben is a UEFA A license coach and joined us in September 2022. He has a vast array of coaching experience already under his belt having worked at Newcastle United’s Academy and Sunderland. Ben also has experience working as a Performance Analyst which will be a fantastic asset for the academy.
Danial Parker - Coach
Dan is a UEFA B licensed coach who also holds FA Youth Award Modules 1, 2 FA Futsal and FA Coaching Disabled Footballers. Dan was previously the Community manager for York City Football Club Foundation and has 20 years’ experience working in football development. He has also worked for York City FC centre of excellence/Academy working for 4 years with the under 15/16 squads and has experience in female football having coached within the North Yorkshire Girls Centre of excellence.
Neil Sanderson - Coach
Nelly was a successful goalkeeper playing with both York Railway Institute and York City (1984-86). Nelly set up City Football Development and has overseen the coaching of hundreds of youngsters across Yorkshire. Dozens of his players have since progressed to professional clubs with many also representing their national youth teams. CFD and i2i joined forces at the beginning of 2015 – with both companies sharing the same philosophy on how to best develop young players.
Lauren Robson - Coach
Lauren joined us in September 2022 and will assist Chris Fairless in coaching our Women’s Academy which continues to go from strength to strength. Lauren is a young, passionate coach who has previously worked at Huddersfield Town Park View, the reigning National Football Youth League champions. Alongside her coaching career, Lauren also plays for Newcastle United Women after moving up the pyramid from Middlesbrough.
Tom Read - Goalkeeping Female Coach
Tom’s first roles within football were with Stoke City, where Tom would serve time as the Head of Goalkeeping for the women’s team as well as being academy goalkeeper coach for ages 9-18, coaching across six different countries over his time with the club. He would eventually move on to become Goalkeeping Coach at Vanarama National League North side AFC Telford. Toms previous two years of his coaching career was with West Bromwich Albion Women, where he was the Head Goalkeeping coach. While working there, he would get the opportunity to work with Premier League legend, former England star now YouTuber, Ben Foster.
Liv Cristea - Coach
Liv Cristea, a former Newcastle United academy coach and UEFA A License holder, now a key member of the i2i International Soccer Academy. With a background playing for Steaua and Dinamo Bucharest and representing Romania in youth football, Liv brings a wealth of experience. Having spent five years at Newcastle United's academy and achieving success with teams like Blyth Spartans U19s, Liv is a seasoned coach. Beyond coaching, he's an associate lecturer at Northumbria University, holding a Masters in Sports Management and pursuing a PhD in Sociology of Sports Coaching.
i2i Player Recruitment
Sports Recruiters at the i2i International Soccer Academy are responsible for recruiting soccer student athletes both abroad and in the UK. They frequently travel to North America to identify potential students and to spread the word about the opportunities available through the Academy.
Corey Roper - Head of Recruitment
After signing for Leeds United’s Academy at the age of 7, Corey signed a scholarship in 2012 before going on to represent the whites at U18 and U21 level. More recently, Corey signed a three-year deal at Wrexham FC making his debut in 2015. Corey recently graduated from university with a 1st class Honors degree in Sports Coaching, along with gaining his Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification and Level 2 Fitness Instructor.
Danny is a Sports Recruiter at the i2i International Soccer Academy who are responsible for recruiting soccer student athletes both abroad and in the UK. Danny frequently travels to North America to identify potential students and to spread the word about the opportunities available through the Academy.
Sam joined the i2i recruitment team at the beginning of the 2022/23 season. Sam enjoyed many of his youth playing years at Manchester City all the way up to the U16 age group. Following on from that he also enjoyed playing for Accrington Stanley, FC United of Manchester and Hyde United as well as getting the opportunity to train with NYCFC and players like David Villa and Andrea Pirlo. Sam has a great track record of recruiting international student athletes to England and also has experience of attending various tournaments in the USA.
James is a dedicated professional with extensive experience in football on both sides of the Atlantic. Before joining i2i, he served as the Head of Men's Football at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN). A graduate of Manchester Metropolitan University with a first-class honours degree in Coaching and Sports Development, James boasts a UEFA B Licence and FA Advanced Youth Award. He was also part of the inaugural cohort of the Premier League and Kick It Out Game Changer Program, focusing on nurturing young leaders in football.
Orrin is a Sports Recruiter at the i2i International Soccer Academy and plays a pivotal role in identifying and recruiting talented soccer student-athletes. With a dynamic background that includes graduating from the i2i Football Academy program. Orrin brings a wealth of first hand experience to his role. Orrin's commitment extends internationally, as evidenced by his two-year volunteer experience in Brazil. This period not only underscores his dedication to soccer but also reflects a broader passion for community engagement and cultural exchange. Additionally, Orrin is fluent in Portuguese, further enriching our team with linguistic versatility.
Charlie, is a dedicated Sports Recruiter at the i2i International Soccer Academy, plays a crucial role in identifying and recruiting soccer student-athletes. With a background that includes graduating from the i2i Football Academy program while simultaneously engaging in semi-pro football, Charlie brings a unique blend of academic and on-field experience. Notably, Charlie's commitment extends beyond borders, having spent two years volunteering in Africa. This experience reflects not only a passion for soccer but also a broader commitment to community and personal development. Additionally, Charlie is fluent in French, adding linguistic versatility to our team.
Jay Taylor - Digital Media Manager
In 2015 Jay graduated from the University College of Football Business with an Honours degree in Football Business & Media. Jay’s role with the i2i International Soccer Academy and i2i’s UK Academy is to manage all social media channels providing fresh and innovative content including pictures, posters, videos and interviews on a daily basis. Jay is also Media Manager at i2i’s Semi-Professional club Tadcaster Albion which includes running all social media channels, filming matches and website editing. Jay recently experienced how the Soccer media works in the United States after covering Orlando City Soccer Club in the MLS meeting star players Kaka, Julio Baptista and Antonio Nocerino.