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Jose for Athlone

LISSYWOLLEN will never be the same again! Athlone will swap second tier Airtricity League status for Jose, Ronaldo and Stevie G when Real Madrid pay a visit in August for a friendly which will attract the world's media to the Midlands.

Preparations have be under way for some time to bring Madrid back to Carton House for a repeat of last year's hugely successful training camp organised by Platinum One.

Now, all that is needed is a rubber-stamp from the FAI. An application for a friendly date has not yet been made and given recent events in Limerick, nothing is guaranteed.

Limerick's backers are still considering their position after the Barcelona debacle and Abbotstown officials have been under pressure to reveal details of the contract (rumoured to be with Endemol) which caused all the problems last week.

However, given the level of political support for the project in the Midlands, it is almost impossible to imagine a scenario in which permission for the Lissywollen glamour fixture would be denied.

Athlone Town chairman and FAI President in waiting Paddy McCall must be pinching himself at the thought that his club will get first bite at Mournho's Madrid and indeed Steven Gerrard, now hotly tipped to be his first signing.

After Inter's Champions League glory in Madrid, Mourinho wasted no time in telling the world that the Bernabeu will be the next port of call on his triumphant progress across Europe and in the same breath, issued a warning to the Galacticos.

"I want to meet people, know what they want from me and the conditions, not the structures, because these I already know, to avoid any doubts when I begin my work. I think all will be consummated."

"The stars now are Inter, the European champions. My message to the players of Real Madrid, if I train them, is that they are not stars, the star is not the coach, the star is the team. If they accept this like Porto, Chelsea or Inter, the victories will come.

"It will be a huge challenge to contest against Barcelona. Everyone says it's a lost cause because my profile doesn't fit Madrid."