Motspur Park has long been one of those places steeped in mystique where the magic happens. The success story that recounts the revamp of Fulham’s academy from a place of aspiration to one of the leading youth set-ups in the country, prompted by Alistair Mackintosh enticing Huw Jennings and Malcolm Elias to a sleepy part of Surrey to write the next chapter of London’s original football club, has been told many times. But the blot on the copybook of a category one academy that churns out considerable talent was the fact that Fulham’s under 23s languished in the Second Division.

It took a revamp and persuading Steve Wigley, winner of back-to-back titles at under 18 level, to step up an age group to begin to put that right but nobody could have envisaged in the summer that the young Whites would storm to the title in such style. Wigley is well known as a proven developer of young talent, who demands the application and standards to match, but even he has been surprised at swiftly Fulham’s fortunes have turned around. The under 23s had clinched promotion with four games remaining and made sure of the title weeks ago. The crowning glory came last night – with a thrilling victory over Burnley, who made the Whites sweat for much of an eight-goal encounter.

All the elements of this sensational side were on display. There was the character to come from behind three times, consigning several setbacks to the sidelines quickly and returning to the first principles of Fulham’s play: progressive passing and a desire to attack at pace, a philosophy that runs through all of the teams at the club since Marco Silva assumed control of the senior side in the summer. The key players in this team were on form: the Welsh wonderkid Luke Harris reprised his four-goal haul against Newcastle with an incredible evening in front of goal, but there was Sonny Hilton, a skipper who leads by exceptional, creating a couple of crucial goals and Jay Stansfield, leading the line again after having been deployed as a number ten regularly this term, the ever willing runner up front. Ollie O’Neill roamed in field frequently from the left, allowing the adventurous Ziyard Larkeche to push forward down that flank, whilst Adrion Pajaziti keep things ticking over in central midfield.

This was my first visit to Fulham’s training ground for the best part of two and a half years and there were a couple of insights into the culture behind this special team. Before the kick off, the club had arranged for a presentation to be made in honour of a loyal supporter’s landmark birthday: the under-23s had all signed a shirt for this fan, who has followed them around the country, to receive before the action got under way. After Hilton had lifted the trophy, the joyous celebrations featured both George Wickens and Conor McAvoy, who had been asked by the team to join the party in recognition of their own contributions prior to heading out on loan at Wealdstone. Wigley, a serial winner, was quietly allowing his youngsters to jump around with the trophy and the music before being ordered over to take centre stage by the team – a demonstration of just how highly they think of their no-nonsense coach.

Supporters and players mingled on the sidelines long after the trophy had been held aloft. It was emotional for me, someone who had watched Adam Stansfield play for Exeter as a university student, to see his son – a very different striker in a lot of ways – clutch his medal in delight after coming through another difficult season with injury. Jay’s commitment to the club is not in doubt after he signed a contract extension earlier in the year – and he will be a fixture in the first team squad before long. His dad would be beaming with pride: as know so many of Jay’s inspirational family are today.

There are so many stories to tell about this collection of mature young men. Luciano D’Auria-Henry, who provided two terrific assists last night, has battled back from a period on the sidelines to step into the right back spot vacated by Marlon Fossey as if he has never been away. Idris Odutayo has been a commanding figure at the heart of the defence – improving with every outing – and he relished a tough battle against two brilliant Burnley forwards, even adding a goal to ensure there was no late drama. Adrion Pajaziti’s own season has had plenty of highs – even if he is humble enough to still admit that he pinches himself at being a professional footballer. London’s Kosovan community is immensely proud of Pajaziti, whose ambassadorial qualities are just as good as his precise range of passing.

Developing young footballers isn’t as easy as following the coaching manuals, ticking all those FA boxes and splashing the cash. There is all the work that goes on behind the scenes, expertly orchestrated by an outstanding academy secretary in Charlotte Bellamy. The educational efforts to ensure that those who don’t make it at Fulham have the life skills to support their next chapter shouldn’t go unnoticed either. Fulham’s academy is arguably something the club should shout about even more – but these boys are letting their flawless football do the talking. Last night was very special, but if Wigley, Jennings and Mike Cave have anything to do with it, it is just the start.