Fulham’s academy manager John Murtough was quoted at length in a BBC Sport feature on youth development and the progress made at Motspur Park since Mohamed Al-Fayed’s investment revolutionised the club’s future planning four years ago.
Murtough told the BBC:
“I oversee the whole academy at Fulham. We’ve got a large network of scouts across the country spotting young players with the potential to be academy students. Our client is the First Team Manager Chris Coleman – so he’s the one we have to look after!
But our aim is to get the kids here and nurture them. We give them the best environment and facilities to make them develop. The one thing I can’t do though is promise first team football. Only 1 or 2 per cent actually make it to the top. Of course, that means many are disappointed, but there are support facilities if they don’t make it.
“We invest a lot of money and time into the academy but it’s worth it. Some of the players will naturally leave for other clubs, and that’s just the nature of it. If we get a transfer fee for the player then that’s good business. Both Adam Green and Zesh Rehman have done brilliantly coming up from the academy into the first team.
“But the academy is not just about churning out footballers. It’s also making them into ‘people’ – decent citizens. Football’s had a bad name at times over the years. So we teach players about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and that behaviour on and off the field is very important. There is more money in the game these days and how somebody reacts to the high wages and pressure depends on their character. But we do not promote the idea of players being bigger and more important than others here! We encourage team work and a good attitude towards fellow players. It’s so important to enjoy your football though, but to make it, you must be willing to work very hard.”