Stoke City, West Ham, Newcastle lead English challenge at 2015 Soccer Sevens

Newcastle United are one of five English teams competing in the 2015 HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens.

Newcastle United are one of five English teams competing in the 2015 HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens.

March 30, 2015: Stoke City will make their tournament debut at the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens from May 29-31, when ‘The Potters’ will be one of five English Premier League clubs participating at Hong Kong Football Club.

West Ham United, boasting one of England’s most successful academies, will compete for the first time since 2012, while five-time champions Aston Villa and recent winners Newcastle United and Leicester City return from last year’s 16-team Main competition.

Villa (2010), Newcastle (2012) and Leicester (2013) have won three of the last five editions of the international seven-a-side-tournament, which each year includes youth teams from Premier League clubs.

Tony Bratsanos, Chairman of the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens Organising Committee, said: “The HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens has always had a strong presence from the Premier League, so we’re delighted that Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Leicester City are continuing their participation and will be bidding to lift the Cup again.

“We’re excited that West Ham will be coming back after a brief break, as they were a very popular side when they played here, and we’re also proud that we were able to secure Stoke City for their tournament debut. Stoke are enjoying a fine season and will be a welcome addition to the Main competition.”

English clubs have won 10 of the 15 editions of the tournament since its inauguration in 1999. Aston Villa have won a record five times (2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010), while Blackburn Rovers (1999), Arsenal (2001), Newcastle (2012), Leicester (2013) and Manchester City (2014) are the other English clubs to have lifted the Cup.

Citibank has title sponsored the event since 2011. Weber Lo, Citi Country Officer and Chief Executive Officer, Hong Kong and Macau, said: “We are proud to be the title sponsor of this prestigious soccer tournament once again this year.

“I am excited to again see a strong English Premier League presence at the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens. Each year, the tournament features both returning and new teams, which always keeps the line-up interesting.”

Hong Kong clubs Kitchee (2011) and Instant Dict (2000), Japan’s Urawa Reds (2005, 2006) and Scottish giants Celtic (2009) are the tournament’s only non-English champions.

The remaining sides in this year’s 16-team Main competition and teams competing in the over-35 Masters tournament will be confirmed soon.

Future stars who have competed in the Main competition include Gabby Agbonlahor, Glen Johnson, Marc Albrighton, David Bentley, Anton Ferdinand, Sammy Ameobi, Shaun Maloney, Jack Grealish and Rolando Aarons.

The Masters tournament has featured former England internationals Peter Beardsley, John Barnes, Chris Waddle, Teddy Sheringham, Des Walker, Andy Cole and Matt Le Tissier, German legends Jurgen Klinsmann and Pierre Littbarski, Finnish icon Jari Litmanen, Dutch great Aron Winter and former France winger Didier Six.

Roll of Honour: Main
Year      Champions / Runners-up
2014      Manchester City (ENG) / Kitchee (HKG)
2013      Leicester City (ENG) / Newcastle United (ENG)
2012      Newcastle United (ENG) / Aston Villa (ENG)
2011      Kitchee (HKG) / Celtic (SCO)
2010      Aston Villa (ENG) / Rangers (SCO)
2009      Celtic (SCO) / Rangers (SCO)
2008      Aston Villa (ENG) / Celtic (SCO)
2007      Aston Villa (ENG) / Central Coast Mariners (AUS)
2006      Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN) / Aston Villa (ENG)
2005      Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN) / PSV Eindhoven (NED)
2004      Aston Villa (ENG) / Manchester United (ENG)
2003      No tournament due to SARS
2002      Aston Villa (ENG) / Arsenal (ENG)
2001      Arsenal (ENG) / Instant Dict (HKG)
2000      Instant Dict (HKG) / Chelsea (ENG)
1999      Blackburn Rovers (ENG) / Celtic (SCO)

Roll of Honour: Masters
Year      Champions / Runners-up
2014      Aegon Ajax All Stars / USRC
2013      Rangers All Stars / Aegon Ajax All Stars
2012      Aegon Ajax All Stars / Top Class
2011      Top Class / Citibank All Stars
2010      KFC Tokyo / Andy Cole All Stars
2009      Golden Rainbow / Football For Life
2008      Rangers / Mel Hood All Stars
2007      Lorenz All Stars / Philips All Stars
2006      Lorenz All Stars / Philips All Stars
2005      Lorenz All Stars / Philips All Stars
2004      Philips All Stars  / Lorenz All Stars
2003      No tournament due to SARS
2002      Philips All Stars  / Team Bondi
2001      Instant Dict Veterans / Lorenz All Stars
2000      Lorenz All Stars / Instant Dict Veterans
1999      Carling All Stars  / Lorenz All Stars