DARREN KELLY has parted company after a six-year association with York City but has designs on returning to Bootham Crescent as first-team manager one day.

The former Northern Ireland Under-21 international has landed a coaching job in Premier League club Sunderland’s academy, having filled a variety of roles with the Minstermen since the start of 2011.

Having previously played for City at centre-back for two seasons prior to being released in 2009, Kelly has recently been coaching the U16s side after overseeing younger age groups and working for the community department in the past.

He was also a member of the first-team staff during Gary Mills’ reign and has racked up an impressive CV of coaching qualifications.

Kelly completed his UEFA ‘B’ licence at the age of 20 in 1999, the ‘A’ licence ten years later and, in October, was awarded with his Pro Licence - a requirement for anybody wanting to manage in the Premier League.

He is now relishing the opportunity to further his education at the Stadium of Light and, on his future aspirations, the Derry-born 35-year-old said: “I want to be a manager one day, not too soon, but I don’t want to wait ten or 20 years either.

“The dream is to come back and manage York City but sometimes you have to go away and do a good job elsewhere.

“It can be difficult to progress up the ranks at one club, but I think I have the credentials to go away, do a good job and prove myself.

“The Pro Licence is the highest qualification in world football but it’s just part of my learning curve and it doesn’t mean too much. I know I have to continue educating myself as a coach and I want to be the best I possibly can be.”

Kelly will be assigned with a specific age group at Sunderland as part of an academy team that also includes ex-European Cup Winners’ Cup winner Paul Bracewell and former Wimbledon Crazy Gang member Carlton Fairweather.

The trio will all be tasked with nurturing potential future England stars and, on that challenge, Kelly added: “The opportunity came out of the blue really and I’ve been a bit blown away by it all.

“I never applied for the job but I got a phone call from Sunderland and they said they wanted to meet me for a chat.

“They have millions to spend on their academy and they get massive support and backing from the Premier League.

“They’ve also got a fantastic group of coaches who are ambitious like me and we will be bouncing ideas off each other. All I have ever been interested in at York is developing players, so they can look back and feel they have achieved something in their life.

“At Sunderland, they brought Jordan Henderson through and he became a £20 million Liverpool player. My plan now is to help as many players as possible gain a scholarship and, hopefully, go on and earn a professional contract.

“I would get enormous pride and satisfaction, then, if they went on to play in the first team and I had played even a 0.1 per cent role in that.

“I’m sad to leave York but the most important thing is I’m leaving on good terms.

“I’m not the type to fall out with people and I’m always very positive. I got on fantastically well with everybody at the club and the chairman was so supportive letting me have time off for courses, which I am very grateful for.”

Kelly also appreciated the role he was given to work on the senior side’s fitness and conditioning under double Wembley-winning manager Mills, who made a big impression on him with his mental approach to football.

“It was great to be part of that period in the club’s history and the memories are just fantastic," the one-time Carlisle defender enthused. “Gary’s man-management was spot on.

“He made everybody feel important and was an inspirational guy, who got the best out of his players.

I am a big believer in the psychological side of football and getting in people’s minds.

“I’ve done an FA level five in psychology qualification and read a lot of books and getting your mindset right is one of the most important things in sport.”

Kelly believes, meanwhile, that the future of York’s young players is in safe hands following the recent appointments of a trio of club legends.

“The likes of Andy McMillan, Richard Cressell and Jonathan Greening are all good people with a lot of history at the club,” he pointed out.

“They are great examples for youngsters of what can be achieved through hard work and dedication and the academy has definitely moved forward during the last couple of years.

“All the coaches are qualified to UEFA ‘B’ licence level at least.

There are some great people there like Adie Costello and Tom Sutton and I am confident that the club will develop good players in the future.

“I don’t think any club at category three level will have better facilities than York now and the chairman deserves great credit for the support he’s shown the academy.”

Kelly also stressed that he would be looking to encourage and re-establish links between his new employers and old club with the likes of Michael Proctor, Michael Reddy, Michael Ingham and Robbie Weir having all been loaned out to the Minstermen in the distant past.

“I will definitely be vouching for York City,” he said. “It would be great to see Sunderland’s U21 players going on loan to York for experience and Sunderland perhaps buying York players because you want a relationship that helps both clubs and they’re not far apart in terms of distance.”