The Irish FA’s coach education department is delivering part of the 2023-24 UEFA Pro diploma in Belfast this week.
The highest coaching qualification in Europe, the ‘Pro’ is a mandatory requirement to manage in European competitions, other European leagues and UEFA club and international competitions.
And there are some instantly recognisable faces who are continuing their coaching qualification journey with the Irish FA as part of the residential.
Ronny Johnsen, a Champions League winner with Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side in 1999, is among the candidates.
A Norwegian international, Johnsen won 62 caps for his country. He has three Premier League winners’ medals to his name and he got his hands on the FA Cup during a memorable treble-winning season with the Red Devils almost a quarter of a century ago.
Also taking part in the pro diploma is ex-Man City midfielder Joey Barton, now manager of EFL League One outfit Bristol Rovers.
Other names on the course which will be familiar to many include: Andy Impey (ex-QPR); Steve Watson (ex-Newcastle United); Antoine Sibierski (ex-Man City, Newcastle, Lens); David Martindale (Livingston boss); Harry Watling (Rangers first team coach) and Connall Murtagh (Liverpool fitness coach).
From the international stage with Northern Ireland, former skipper Aaron Hughes and hero in Lyon Gareth McAuley are among the 19 candidates.
Lee Camp, Alex Bruce, Michael Gault and Danielle McDowell-Tuffey are the others on the course to have played at senior international level for Northern Ireland.
The Irish FA UEFA B professional course is also being held in Belfast this week. Northern Ireland international Corry Evans and former senior women’s team defender Ashley Hutton are among those taking part.