David Weir’s experience at the highest level will rub off on Sheffield United’s academy starlets, according to new ‘assistant manager - performance’ Adam Owen.
Given the tough financial climate, Weir is expected to rely heavily on younger players next season as United aim to mount a serious promotion challenge.
The former Everton and Glasgow Rangers centre-half won 69 international caps for Scotland and became the oldest ever player to represent his country when he featured against Lithuania aged 40 years and 116 days.
In 2011, Weir made his final competitive appearance for Rangers in a Champions League qualifier with Swedish side Malmo at the age of 41.
And Owen, who worked with Weir at Ibrox, is convinced the next generation at Bramall Lane could not wish for a better role model than Weir.
“David is very hard-working and got a great work ethic,” Owen told The Star. “He left no stone unturned in terms of giving himself the best chance as a player.
“He always wanted to learn and was always picking up new ideas and trying to look after himself as best as he possibly could do. I don’t think there is somebody better out there as an example of managing himself right.
“He played in the Champions League when he was 41 so he still played at the top end right to the end of his playing career.”
United have begun training after the summer break and preparations ahead of the new season are beginning to gather pace. Their pre-season campaign kicks off with a tour to Scotland this week where they will take on Greenock Morton, Cowdenbeath and Raith Rovers in warm-up matches.
The pressure is on Weir, who worked under David Moyes as reserve team coach at Everton before heading to South Yorkshire, to turn around United’s fortunes but Owen is confident the Scot will cope with the demands of management.
Owen, a specialist in football-specific conditioning and injury prevention techniques, said: “Management is completely different but David has captained big clubs throughout his playing career and dealt with big characters in the dressing room which will help him.
“David has worked at first-team level and the under-21s so he has dealt with younger and senior players.
“He is an an authorative character in terms of what he has done and how he conducts himself. It can only benefit younger players having somebody like that to look up to.
“There are some good, talented youngsters coming through here. Their quality hasn’t surprised me at all and David is keen to involve them.”