Sheffield United have opened its Academy doors to two young footballers from Vietnam as part of a prize for the reality television programme 'Soccer Prince'.
Seventeen year-old striker - Nguyen Truong Giang and sixteen year-old left midfielder - Nguyen Anh Tu arrived in Sheffield this week to start a period of assessment at the Blades highly respected Academy.
The pair were chosen from thousands of hopefuls in a major Vietnamese reality TV show, produced in conjunction with the company behind the X Factor. At the end of the assessment period, one of the boys will secure the prize of a full season long training placement with Sheffield United.
Sheffield United, along with Liverpool FC, had a starring role in the 'Soccer Prince' show that reached its climax on 29 May, 2010. Marking a television first for the country, not only did 'Soccer Prince' engage the nation's true love for football and reality TV drama, but more specifically it's endearing devotion to English Football.
UK Company, Kickworldwide, share joint ownership of the 'Soccer Prince' format with FremantleMedia, who are famed for reality hits such as Idols, Got Talent, X-Factor and The Apprentice.
With life-changing prizes at stake, including genuine one-season training placements with Liverpool and Sheffield United, the 17 show series was launched back in December 2009 to an excited Vietnamese public.
Sheffield United's involvement is a reflection of the club's emerging global pedigree, having created one of the strongest international models in world football.
As part of the Final judging process, Sheffield United drafted in help from their partner club in Australia, Central Coast Mariners. The Mariners' Assistant Coach Tony Walmsley was instrumental in helping identify the two Sheffield United finalists.
Mike Farnan, Group Executive Director at Sheffield United, is spearheading the club's international programme. Farnan said: "Sheffield United have a long term international vision. The credibility of Kickworldwide and FremantleMedia provided a perfect arena to extend our international credentials to new global markets, whilst reinforcing our commitment to supporting grassroots football, both home and abroad.
"Sheffield United is well known throughout the world, but promoting our credentials in front of millions of Vietnamese TV viewers is very valuable. I really hope that the boys have a great experience and that our renowned academy staff can get the most from their undoubted talent."
The 'Soccer Prince' format is in the process of a global rollout, with shows now planned for Africa, India, Brazil and the Middle East as well as a second series in China and Vietnam.
Steve Cartwright from Kickworldwide said: "Soccer Prince proved a massive hit in Vietnam, so we are all very excited at the prospect of introducing this reality format into emerging markets across the world. Our collaboration with respected names from football, steeped in history and tradition, ensures that the prize winners will be immersed in the true ethos of English football."