Gary Bowyer says Blackpool’s youngsters have created memories that will last for the rest of their lives.
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Pool’s Under-18 side created history on Tuesday when they beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2 to seal a place in the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup – the furthest the club has ever progressed in the competition.
John Murphy’s side will face Premier League giants Arsenal – a glamour tie Bowyer believes they deserve.
Bowyer told The Gazette: “It’s a fantastic story and I think John Murphy summed it up when he described it as a fairytale.
“They were very good on the night. I thought they were the better team and thoroughly deserved it. They’ve been a huge credit to the club and they’ve enjoyed a fantastic run.
“Now they get a wonderful opportunity to play Arsenal at the Emirates and that’s a great reward. “What they’re doing is creating memories for themselves, both individually and as a group, that will last them for the rest of their lives.
“Every time the Emirates comes on the telly, they’ll be able to tell their kids and their mates in the pub that they played there. That’s fantastic for anybody.
“For us, you want to get as many players as you can through the youth system. I think that’s important.
“Even for the ones who won’t progress to become full-time players, these are memories that will stick for the rest of their lives.”
Blackpool will face the Gunners over two legs, with the first set to take place at Bloomfield Road.
While Arsenal reached the semi-finals with a 5-1 thrashing of Colchester United, Bowyer insists the young Seasiders have every chance of reaching the final.
He added: “They’ve got nothing to fear. It’s a free hit for them again, isn’t it?
“It’s not just a Category One club but a very good Category One club that produces outstanding players.
“They’ve got all the facilities you could possibly wish for, and there are our lads who get pushed from pillar to post in terms of where they train and how they go about it.
“But they don’t complain. They just get on with it and they work ever so hard for each other. That’s reflected in their performances.
“That’s the spirit they’ve got – a never-say-die character they’ve developed throughout this run and it’s given them that belief.”
The first leg at Blackpool is to be played by March 24 and the second by April 7. .
Chelsea, who have won the competition for the last four years, take on Birmingham City in the other semi-final.
Blackpool’s League One fixtures at home to Northampton Town, frozen off last Saturday, has been rearranged for Tuesday, April 10.