Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins graduates from UEFA Pro Licence course alongside ex Man United star John O'Shea and All Ireland winning manager Jim McGuinness

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DERRY CITY manager Ruaidhri Higgins was among 20 elite coaches who graduated from the FAI's UEFA Pro Licence programme in Dublin today.

Higgins was joined by ex-Man United and Ireland star John O'Shea, former Chelsea goalkeeper Carlo Cudicni, All Ireland winning manager Jim McGuinness and fellow League of Ireland top flight managers Tim Clancy (St Pat's) and Kevin Doherty (Drogheda Utd) among other notable names in the local game.

Ireland coach and Higgins' former manager at Derry City and Dundalk, Stephen Kenny was guest of honour at the ceremony as the 20 coaches came to the end of their two-year course that covered all aspects of coaching at the highest level of the professional game.

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The 20 latest FAI graduates, who join over 9,000 other UEFA Pro Licence holders across the world, were originally due to complete their course in May of this year but COVID-19 delayed the completion of their programme with part of it held online due to the pandemic.

Ruaidhri Higgins was among 20 coaches to graduate from the FAI's UEFA Pro Licence programme in Dublin today.Ruaidhri Higgins was among 20 coaches to graduate from the FAI's UEFA Pro Licence programme in Dublin today.
Ruaidhri Higgins was among 20 coaches to graduate from the FAI's UEFA Pro Licence programme in Dublin today.

The graduates were presented with their certificate course Diploma at a graduation ceremony at the Dublin Airport Carlton Hotel attended by FAI President Gerry McAnaney, FAI Board member Packie Bonner, CEO Jonathan Hill and Director of Football Marc Canham.

Over the duration of their course, the 20 coaches visited Málaga CF in Spain and Royale Union Saint-Gilloise in Belgium while expert speakers to make presentations to their group included Sir Alex Ferguson, Howard Wilkinson and Roberto Martinez.

Congratulating the 2022 graduates, FAI Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Hill said: “To see our total number of UEFA Pro Licence coaches pass the 100 mark is a really significant day for our Coach Education Department and I want to congratulate all the staff involved in reaching this milestone and, of course, all the graduates who have now joined the ranks of the highest qualified coaches in world football. They have reached the pinnacle of professional football in terms of their coaching qualifications and we look forward to following their careers with great interest and pride.”

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FAI Director of Football Marc Canham remarked: “The quality of coaches to have reached UEFA Pro Licence status via our FAI courses tells its own story. Our past graduates and the class of 22 have so much to offer football going forward, in Ireland and beyond, and I can promise them that we will support them all on their coaching journey wherever it make them from here. Congratulations to all who have reached this milestone today.”

Niall O’Regan, FAI Head of Coach Education, congratulated the latest class to graduate with their UEFA Pro Licence. “We have a proud history of FAI graduates going all the way back to 2009 when Packie Bonner, Brian Kerr and the late, great Noel O’Reilly were among the first group to graduate. To see our total number of FAI educated UEFA Pro Licence holders pass the 100 mark is indeed a proud day for the Association and I want to thank all my colleagues and all the external tutors and speakers who have helped us reach this historic mark.”

FAI President Gerry McAnaney added: “The FAI is rightly proud of our Coach Education programmes which run from grassroots introduction courses all the way through to the UEFA Pro Licence, the highest qualification available in professional football. These latest graduates are to be commended for their progress up the coaching ladder and we look forward to them inspiring future generations of Irish footballers for many years to come.”

FAI UEFA PRO LICENCE GRADUATES 2022: John O’Shea, Dan Connor, Carlo Cudicini, Ian Morris, Matthew Ross, Ian Ryan, Sean O’Shea, Alan Murphy, Aidan Price, Daire Doyle, Tom Elmes, Ruaidhri Higgins, John Russell, Graham Kelly, Kevin Doherty, Anthony Hayes, Denis Hyland, Tim Clancy, James Scott, Jim McGuinness.