SAINTS legend Matt Le Tissier has launched a new coaching initiative designed to encourage the next generation of gifted footballers.

Known for his supreme talent with the ball, Le Tissier admits a sense of despondency at what he sees as a failure to properly nurture flair players in this country.

To counter that, he has unveiled his Natural Coaching school, which he insists will “take the shackles off” youngsters and encourage them to fully express themselves on the pitch.

He said: “It is always thrown at you in this country if you’ve got natural ability that that’s great, but what else do you do? Can you defend? It amazes me. In this country we always want to knock people that have got talent – we always want to build them up a little bit and then bring them back down to earth.”

Le Tissier added: “What we want to do is take the shackles off and let them develop as naturally as they possibly can, without people forcing formations on them, or rigid defensive structures.

“At this age I think they need to be free to play football.”

Le Tissier will identify more than 100 players, aged from seven to 12, and from goalkeepers through to strikers, to take forward through a series of trials.

His coaching team, which includes ex-Saint Francis Benali and Jody Rivers of AFC Bournemouth, will then help teach them using his philosophies.

The idea is to nurture players in the same way that club sides such as Barcelona or international teams like Spain and Argentina do.

“They might not well be as good as the lads that are doing it for Spain, but we want them to have that same philosophy and not be afraid to go out and try and play that way,” said Le Tissier.

“We just want to bring out the whole potential that they’ve got in them for being a footballer.

“If that means that they go and play non-league to a good standard then absolutely fine. If we get a few that go and play professionally then brilliant.

“There are some kids that do have plenty of ability, but don’t have the belief.

“If we can see somebody who maybe is a little bit introverted, but you can see has actually got a little bit about him then we can bring that out of him and we might turn out a real nugget who never even thought he had a chance of playing.”

The chosen youngsters will be invited to attend a season-long programme of weekly coaching sessions, while being encouraged to continue playing for their clubs and schools. Trials will be held at Toynbee School, Eastleigh , on Monday, August 20, and Friday, August 31.

For more information, or to register, visit or see .

There will be a fee for boys invited onto the coaching programme, but the team have promised to work with families to ensure youngsters from all backgrounds are given an opportunity through potential sponsorships.

  • For an in-depth report on Le Tissier’s new venture, don’t miss the double page spread in this weekend’s Sports Pink .