JULEN LOPETEGUI hopes his players find the net far more regularly than this VIP visitor who dropped into Wolves’ Compton Park training ground on Tuesday.
However the Spanish boss will be delighted if his team matches Henry Searle‘s success on grass once the Premier League kicks off.
GettyJulen Lopetegui had a special guest at Wolves training as he targets a successful 2023-24 season[/caption]
PAWolverhampton native Henry Searle visited Wolves training on Tuesday following his Wimbledon success[/caption]
Searle raced to the title without dropping a set as he beat fifth seed Yaroslav Demin 6-4 6-4 to carve his place in UK tennis history.
It meant the Brit followed in the footsteps of famous former Wimbledon boys champions such as Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Pat Cash, Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer to take the coveted prize.
Ahead of Sunday’s final Lopetegui recorded a good luck message for the 6ft 4in teenager, which the former St Peter’s Collegiate Academy pupil admits helped fire him up for glory.
Searle told wolves.co.uk. “It was pretty inspiring. To see that I’ve been recognised by someone like Julen was a big push before the final.
“I’ve been a Wolves supporter ever since I was a little kid. I’ve always tried to get to as many games as possible and watch as many home games as I can.
“I love Molineux and it was pretty cool to be invited to Compton and meet a few of the players and watch them train.
“I played as a left-winger in the academy when I was younger, but I was a little bit better at tennis than I was at football at the time of choosing between the two.
“I think I’ve made the right decision.”
After being given a tour of the Compton Park training ground, Searle met Wolves’ players and was able to give them a close look at the youngster’s silverware.
Lopetegui said: “We were really pleased to welcome Henry and his family to one of our training sessions following his incredible win at Wimbledon.
“We watched the final together as a group on Sunday afternoon and we were delighted that he won the junior boys’ title.
“Everyone at the club and across Wolverhampton are very proud of his achievement.
“Henry is part of the pack, so it was an honour for us as staff and players that we had a chance to celebrate his success with him and his family, as he joined us this week with the trophy.
“We will be following his progress with great interest.”
Searle started playing tennis as a three-year-old, where he progressed through the Newbridge Lawn Tennis & Squash Club – located next door to Wolves’ training ground.
Having won the U16 LTA Junior National Championships last year, Searle attracted national attention when he reached the quarter-finals of the recent French Open before producing his heroics at Wimbledon last weekend.
“The atmosphere was amazing,” Searle said. “It’s always incredible to play at Wimbledon and having all my family and friends there supporting me was great.
“Obviously, the ultimate goal is to be able to do what I did last week in the men’s tournament, but there is a long way to go yet.”
Britain’s last Wimbledon boys’ champion 61 years ago also came from a football background.
Stanley Matthews was the son of legendary Blackpool, Stoke City and England winger Sir Stanley Matthews.
However Matthews junior he gave up football for tennis when he was 12 because he was targeted for rough treatment by defenders who wanted to ‘leave one on,’ the great man’s son!