Andy Morrison is hoping Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton get sent to cover his European adventure with Welsh champions Connah’s Quay Nomads – as pay back for 26 years ago.
Morrison – whose team were crowned winners when the Welsh domestic season was halted last week – was a team-mate of the BBC’s punditry pair when they were together at Blackburn Rovers.
The former defender – who will turn 50 in July, two weeks before Shearer does – was at Blackburn when they crashed out of the UEFA Cup in 1994 to Trelleborg, a bunch of Swedish part-timers.
Not even the presence of the famed SAS could stop Rovers’ humiliation and Morrison has not forgotten as he looks ahead to managing the Nomads in Champions League qualifiers.
“I was a substitute in the return in Trelleborg and it ended badly,” he says.
“It was the season after we had finished as runners-up in the Premier League and I left shortly after that to go to Blackpool and that was the season they went on to win the Premier League title and qualify for the Champions League.
“I missed out on all of that. So, it would be great to be able to welcome Shearer and Sutton to north Wales to watch us play in Europe.”
When those qualifiers will actually take place is still unknown, but they will offer a lifeline to Morrison’s minnows as they could pocket up to £1m from TV cash and sponsorship.
The Welsh Premier champions pipped TNS to the title when the FA of Wales wrapped up the season early just days after the same decision was reached in Scotland.
Among those who have buzzed Morrison’s phone with texts of congratulation are Thierry Henry, Mikel Arteta and Freddie Ljungberg – the trio who joined him on the famed Welsh Pro Licence coaching course.
“I’m in a chat group on WhatsApp with Thierry, Freddie and Mikel after we all did the same coaching course. They were among the first to send some kind messages.
“We thought the FAW might make this decision given the circumstances and it means we are the champions of Wales for the first time. That means a hell of a lot and it will bring us Champions League football for the first time.
“Getting into the Champions League is the golden egg for teams in our league.
“Champions League prize money and TV rights money are what have given TNS the chance to dominate our league.
“Our budget this season was half of theirs and what I want is for Connahs Quay to be challenging year in, year out for the title.”
With only two defeats in 26 games Morrison’s men were four points clear of the champions of the last nine seasons, The New Saints, and on course to complete the double having already taken the League cup.
“I’ve had some wonderful messages of congratulations from former team mates and all the managers in the Cymru League,” said former Manchester City skipper, Morrison.
Wales has four places in European competitions, but only the champions get into the lucrative Champions League – a challenge for Morrison but he is a manager who has already caused a stir in his four seasons in charge of the north Wales club.
He won the Welsh Cup in 2018, took them into Europe for the first time and reached the final of the final of the Scottish Challenge Cup in 2019. The Nomads also beat Scottish Premier League club Kilmarnock to reach the second qualifying round of the Europa League last season.
“Getting into the Champions League was the dream we had from day one when I first came to the Nomads. I really didn’t think it was possible in such a short time frame,” admitted Morrison.
“We’ll be ready whenever they tell us to go. It would have been nice to have completed the season and won the title on the pitch, but we realise what people are going through in these strange times.”