Former Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers has been hired as a full-time Irish scout by GestiFute, the company founded and headed by super agent Jorge Mendes.
Rogers has confirmed to Independent.ie that he started a new role earlier this month which will involve identifying talent on these shores on behalf of the group that is a major player in the European football market.
GestiFute's international headquarters are in Dublin with a small number of staff based here involved in the business and finance operations of a global force that has a star-studded roster of clients headed by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ireland international Matt Doherty signed up with Mendes' group ahead of his transfer from Wolves to Jose Mourinho's Spurs last summer.
But the recruitment of Rogers is a new departure aimed at sourcing promising local youngsters at the beginning of their journey.
He will report to Luis Correia, Mendes' nephew, who is also the CEO of Polaris Sports – the commercial wing of the multi-million euro operation.
Mendes did sign off on the deal after Rogers conducted a number of Zoom interviews with various staff members following an initial approach from Irish-based Andy Quinn, an accountant and GestiFute director.
"It's a great opportunity," said Rogers (39) who hung up his gloves in December after over 20 years in the League of Ireland.
"I will be looking at football at all levels. At the minute the only show in town is going to be the League of Ireland when that's up and running and then hopefully the underage football is back soon.
"It's an interesting time. They (GestiFute) realise there's good players here because they have the likes of Matt on board.
"You look at young players like Aaron Connolly and others around his age having an impact. My job is about profiling and identifying the players and with the connections GestiFute have, it's then about getting them in the right place to deliver their potential."
Brexit has changed the landscape of Irish underage football with players now unable to sign for UK clubs until they are 18.
However, the common travel area agreement means Irish players do not require special permits to move to the UK once they turn 18 whereas European counterparts now need to go through a qualification process.
But 16-year-old Irish players can still legally move to other EU countries with Shamrock Rovers starlet Kevin Zefi set to pave the way when he eventually joins Inter Milan.
"With Irish players not needing work permits to go to the UK, that's a bonus," said Rogers. "And the fact they are part of the EU and can travel anywhere in the EU to play their football, there's massive opportunities and this company has a massive network.
"It may not be a case of the UK only, you are throwing the net much further than that. You are trying to get players to the best environment for their talent and ability to prosper. It could be Spain or Portugal or the Netherlands. The UK is where a lot of players from Ireland tend to go; it may not necessarily be the best route.
"I'll be reporting to Luis in Portugal; and I've contacts now with three or four of the others where I will be sharing my reports with them and comparing them with other guys of the same ilk in Portugal or Spain in Poland and see how the players I'm looking at compare with players in similar positions and age groups.
"When Andy heard I had retired, he felt my background in the league and work with the players union (he's a former PFA Ireland chair) made me an interesting fit and he floated it with the other board members. It's a privilege to be thought of in that regard by such an impressive company."
When travel returns to normal, Rogers expects he will be joined regularly by GestiFute staff from Portugal and further afield to watch prospective recruits and his brief for watching players could also bring him into their UK network.
For the time being, however, the focus will on keeping tabs on events at home with a number of players already on his radar. He feels the development of the underage national leagues from U-13 upwards is a help, in addition to the younger profile of the League of Ireland at senior level.
"There is a lot to be said for the better young players in our league coming through and playing first team football and playing in full time environments," said the Meathman, who is due to help out Monaghan GAA coach Seamus 'Banty' McEnaney with his goalkeeping coaching this year.
"With the financial constraints there may be in certain clubs, younger players are getting more opportunities earlier than they may have.
"I personally believe that playing senior football in this country is more beneficial than playing U-18 or U-23 football in the UK but it's not a one size fits all approach. There may still be benefits to some players by going away earlier.”