AN aspiring football manager whose interest in soccer tactics was first piqued by a computer game has landed a job coaching a football team in Northern Ireland.

Shaun Guest, of Oswaldtwistle, has started coaching at Strule United, who play in Division One of the Fermanagh and Western Football League.

And the 32-year-old Blackburn Rovers fan, who now lives in Enniskillen, also manages Strule United Reserves, and hopes to one day be standing in a professional capacity on the sidelines at Ewood Park.

The former Mount Carmel High School, Accrington, pupil moved to Northern Ireland in 2016 with his fiancee Eimear, before getting married in 2017.

He said: “Since I was very young I’ve been playing computer games like Championship Manager and Football Manager, and my dad used to buy me season tickets for Blackburn Rovers.

“I’d always been interested in the tactical side of the game and seeing transfers of players from club to club.

“And now I have a huge passion for coaching and love seeing the improvement of players.”

Mr Guest, who played for Oswaldtwistle Juniors and had spells with Clayton Villa and Blackburn Eagles, was awarded his grassroots and level one Irish Football Association coaching badge from Queen's Sports University, Belfast, in June, and is hoping to undertake his UEFA C licence next year, which will enable him to progress through Northern Ireland’s coaching ranks.

He said: “I’ve been fortunate enough to attend sessions with the Northern Ireland under-19s, taking direction from manager Stephen Frail, and I’ve been able seek advice from ex-professionals, such as former Manchester United youngster Joe Dudgeon.

“Also, within the current set-up, I work alongside some excellent coaches, like Gary Wallace, who have helped me understand the scientific parts of the game.”

Mr Guest, who studied sports management with coaching at the University of Central Lancashire, has gone from strength to strength since he joined the club, and his team is now sitting seventh in the league.

He said: “I feel that with every session I’m part of at Strule United, I’m learning more and more.

“I hope to one day be stood on the sidelines in a professional capacity, whether that be at Accrington Stanley or Ewood Park. As long as I keep pushing myself and continue with my coaching licences then anything is possible.”