Like a lot of people, particularly from my part of the world, I enjoyed watching the Newcastle victory over Man United.

It was not just because Steve Bruce and I go back a long way and he definitely needed a win after losing at Leicester 5-0 the week before.

The fairy-tale element was that two brothers born in the area, Sean and Matty Longstaff, were on the pitch at the same time and the younger one scored the winning goal.

The camera picked up on his parents in the stands dancing and the two brothers hugging each on the pitch. Fantastic.

My interest went even further because I may have mentioned before that Special Olympics, which I am President of Great Britain, has groups all around the country.

There is one in my hometown of Gateshead which the council are behind and each year I go up to present medals. The first year there was 20 and last year 175.

I normally leave early the next morning but last time was asked to stay a little longer and was picked up and surprisingly taken to Newcastle’s training ground.

The arrangement is that the Special Olympic football team made up of Down’s syndrome and autistic lads once a month visit Newcastle’s training ground and are coupled with a young footballer who is called a ‘mentor.’ They do a training session together finishing with a little game and then have lunch near the dressing rooms.

After the game I mixed and mingled and one of the Newcastle youngsters walked by me and I said ‘hang on, I thought that was Alan Ball,’ because of his ginger hair.

We had a laugh and a chat and it was Matty Longstaff who scored that goal last week.

I am sure the Special Olympic lads, and particularly the one he mentored, were as excited as his family and possibly the took credit for his achievement.

All in all, I think this has been a huge success and speaking as an ex-manager I believe it is important for young footballers to see a different side of life, realise how lucky they are and it helps to keep their feet on the ground.

If and when I get around to it, I wouldn’t mind putting this to the Premier League for them to send a circular to the top 20 clubs for them all to do a similar thing.

Every city has a Special Olympics group in their area and as far as the managers and coaches are concerned it wouldn’t detract from the football training side as they can always do harder sessions after the lunch when the Special Olympic athletes have left.

  • An international break on the one hand looks like a good time for the managers because it enables them to possibly put their feet up or because of the number from abroad an opportunity to nip back home.

Of course, they can also watch some of the games as well.

But actually it’s not as good as that when you are managing and particularly if you are in charge of a successful team such as Liverpool or Manchester City.

They will have more players away than teams near the bottom of the league because the quality is there and international players have been brought in from all around Europe.

What is means is the boss is waiting with fingers crossed because most of the squad are not even away for just one game as most have two – and the majority are competitive matches.

The manager cannot wait to see them come back, sometimes only a day before their next league game.

A lot of them have had long journeys. Take, for instance, Maya Yoshida, who regularly travels to Japan.

Whilst the manager may want his own country to do well his job is to get three points in the next league game.

Our own club here haven’t had a good run lately and so Ralph will want his players who are away coming back without injuries.

In fact, he probably wouldn’t mind if they were on the bench for their countries because his priority is going to Wolverhampton – and even that will be travelling away on the Friday and not a lot of time to get the squad together – to get three points there.

You cannot stop players wanting to play for their country, and you are duty bound to release them anyway.

With the Saints group hopefully if they play they get good results and come back 100 per cent fit.