EX-FOOTBALLER and former Sunderland manager Simon Grayson went back to school to help inspire the younger genration to achieve their dreams.

Former Bedale High School student Simon returned to his old school last week to talk to year eight and nine pupils about his career and the courage needed to leave home at 16 to begin life as a professional footballer at Leeds United.

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His playing days saw him twice transfer for £1.2m to Leicester City, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers and finally to Blackpool.

But it was at Leicester where he achieved success, winning two play-off finals at Wembley, the League Cup and where he was voted Player of the Season as captain.

In all, he played 433 games scoring 11 goals.

Simon emphasised the importance of commitment in everything you do and as a footballer, he had to dedicate himself to being the best player he could, which often meant missing out on lots of things his friends were doing.

The Northern Echo: Ex-Sunderland manager Simon Grayson with pupils at his old school, Bedale HighEx-Sunderland manager Simon Grayson with pupils at his old school, Bedale High

A move into management at Blackpool saw him win the Football League Trophy and the play-off at Wembley before his dream move to boyhood club Leeds United where again, he won promotion.

Promotions as a manager followed at Huddersfield Town, Preston North End before his appointment as manager at Sunderland.

Simon’s former PE teacher Martyn Coombs said: "When Simon played for my year seven school team when he was in year six at Bedale CE Primary School, I never dreamed he would go on to manage the club I have supported all my life.

"It was just a pity it only lasted three months because I’m sure, given time, he would have been a great success."

Simon went on to manage Bradford City, Blackpool and finally Fleetwood Town.

He is now keeping very busy with his media work with Talk Sport and Sky.

Simon encouraged all the pupils to look upon every stumbling block as a steppingstone and to show the commitment and courage to prove people wrong whenever you have a set back in life.

He said: "It’s hard to believe it is 36-years-since I last set foot in the school, and it is wonderful to see the school motto of courage, commitment and compassion which happen to be the three qualities that have guided me through my life as a professional footballer and manager."

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