A team of youngsters from the United States have met  a giant version of their Liver Bird mascot.

The players from the Boston soccer academy, recently re-named The Spirit of Liverpool, were on a visit to the UK and came face to face with the 8ft version of the bird which stands in Central Station.

Life-long LFC supporter Paul Rearden left Merseyside for a new life in the States and helped set up the academy which was founded by fellow Scouser Bernie Grimes. Now it has more than 600 youngsters on its books, is thriving and has changed its name to ‘The Spirit of Liverpool’.

“We’ve adopted the modern version of the Liver Bird and taken the name – The Spirit of Liverpool – under our wing,” says Paul, senior coach at the academy who was heading the party of youngsters.

“Now we are building closer links between Boston and Liverpool and have had great support from my home town,” he said. “The Spirit of Liverpool, which is a partnership between Rick and former Echo journalist Arthur Johnson, have been fantastic helping and getting messages of support for us from people such as the Lord Mayor, Gerry Marsden and Mike McCartney.

“We’ve created a new logo which incorporates the bird and the Stars and Stripes and a new kit sponsored by Puma, now carries the name Spirit of Liverpool along with the logo.

“LFC is a huge brand and we fully understand the club needs to protect it. We’ll always be massive supporters but felt we’d have more freedom using the name Spirit of Liverpool. Our youngsters have already made a number of trips over to Merseyside and it is great for me to be back home   with this group to show them around. We had a trip round Anfield before coming to meet the bird.

“Soccer has become massive in the States in recent years and continues to grow in popularity,” says Paul. “Youngsters thoroughly enjoy playing under our professional coaching and the very best of them see it as a possible future career.”

Plans are now being made by The Spirit of Liverpool for a charity match between a Boston team and a Merseyside team for next summer.