To be able to grow as a football club and compete with the very best you need to have an academy that feeds the club with new players every season, without it you will most certainly at some point sink to the bottom.Embed from Getty Images
Of course buying and selling is an option, but for the future it’s essential that local players are snapped up and doing a good job at least on the fringe, because buying fringe could cost you heavily and just ruin the future and the logistic of a good environment.
Ben Chilwell is together with Harvey Barnes and to some point Hamza Choudhury the players that has from a local point of view managed to get their places in the squad. With Chilwell gone, Luke Thomas has taken his chances and did play in the FA Cup final, great to see him progress.Embed from Getty Images
But his position in the team is now under treat from several players and the newly added Ryan Bertrand. This tells a story that his position is by no mean covered well enough with the departure of Ben Chilwell last season.
We are all waiting for Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall to pave his way into the squad and the team, a local talent that probably needs a bit more time to settle before taking his big step, but again the sale of Josh Knight, the release of Darnell Johnson and Admiral Muskwe shows that a long term academy relationship doesn’t result in first team activitiy.
We all know the fairy stories from the past going back to the days of Peter Shilton, a local goalkeeper who made the most out of his footballing career, his team mate for many years at international level for England, Gary Lineker both being key players in the England team of the 1986 and 1990 World Cup and both growing up in Leicester. This shows that more players should have been given the green light for a first team job. Steve Whitworth also had a number of games played for England, but it’s a while since these three were playing.Embed from Getty Images
Leicester must trust the academy much more and be more open about getting local Leicester lads into the environment not be so keen on foreign youngsters from all sorts of countries joining. Let the local feed get more attention and build your brand a bit more locally as you will benefit from that.
Emile Heskey and Julian Joachim are to other great examples of players coming up and through and making their mark in the game from an open door into the first team and as we all know both took their chance and build a great career from it.
Of course it’s great to see young players coming up and Harvey Barnes, Luke Thomas and Hamza Choudhury together with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall could all be Leicestershire lads playing in the team next season, and we all hope they will take part of a great future.
Che Adams is of course a grim example of a player that had to go via other sources to get to the top of the game and at present time playing for Southampton at PL level and representing Scotland at international level, taking part in the Euro’s this summer.Embed from Getty Images
With Lineker, Shilton, Whitworth, Heskey and Barnes you have good examples of local players that became England internatonals. Sad to see Josh Knight, Darnell Johnson and Admiral Muskwe shipped out and moved on, it’s like a wasted investment in local players.
Looking at the current group in the development squad you have too many players brought in from other nations and areas in England and just making up the numbers before they are shipped out without a sniff of first team chances, so why start the import instead of bringing forward more young talent from Leicester and Leicestershire.
Last season was a grand dissappointment with a bit of bad results for the U.23’s and the U.19 side as they struggled in their divisions. Then you see that adding foreigners might not be the best solution, when you see that Thomas, Choudhury, Dewsbury-Hall and Barnes are all locals.
Looking at a team over the last decades to include just local players and of course adding some that has at least an English passport and indeed lived close to Leicestershire and joining the academy from a young age,
We have the following team,
- Peter Shilton, England, 125 caps
- Steve Whitworth, England, 7 caps
- Ben Chilwell, England, 14 caps
- Graham Cross, England, U.23 caps
- Steve Sims, England, U.21 caps
- Hamza Choudhury, England, U.21 caps
- Harvey Barnes, England, 1 cap
- Gary Lineker, England, 80 caps
- Emile Heskey, England, 62 caps
- Julian Joachim, England, U.21 caps
- Howard Riley, England, U.23 caps
Of course there are others, but this shows that talent can be found in the Leicestershire community and it doesn’t cost a penny, but as we can see too few from the neighborhood that develops a grand career in football. Local born Jeff Blockley was overlooked by Leicester and later signed back from Arsenal via Coventry. Alan Woollett, Andy Peake and Stefan Oakes can also be mentioned.
Ironically Leicester and Leicestershire had one player in the Euro’s, Che Adams, and he was playing for Scotland, with a past at Oadby Town, after being released from the Leicester City academy. That tells a story!