Sheffield United

Sheffield United slideshow

From standing with his mates at Euro 2016 to playing in a World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, Harry Maguire is a man emboldened by having Three Lions on his shirt. Emerging as one of England’s most reliable defenders, Maguire has admirers at the Premier League’s top table yet still possesses the air of a man who has won a cereal packet competition to play for his country. Last week he was interviewed by the FA’s YouTube channel and gave a word-perfect rendition of ‘We’re On Our Way’, the England soundtrack which has followed the team around Russia. If the Leicester centre-half was not playing against Sweden last weekend, he would probably be in Samara watching from the terraces with his parents, brothers Laurence and Joe, sister Daisy, girlfriend Fern, and his mates. Maguire epitomises the new era of “good tourists” flourishing under Gareth Southgate and personifies the change in mentality that is winning hearts and minds. Harry Maguire is a born and bred Blades fan Credit: PA Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester and the man who signed him from Hull City, recalls a story from last summer which perfectly captures Maguire’s grounded personality. “He was identified as our main transfer target and shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him,” Shakespeare told Telegraph Sport. “We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. “I knew Leicester was the right club for him in terms of his personality. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. “I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Signed for £17m by Leicester, his performances at the World Cup continue the remarkable journey for the 25-year-old, from those early days with the Blades Academy. He supported Steel City rivals Sheffield Wednesday as a lad but joined United’s youth system and was quickly tipped as the one who would break through. With that familiar towering build and an unerring range of passing, the teenage Maguire led Sheffield United’s academy side to the FA Youth Final in 2011. Micky Adams gave him his debut at the age of 18, as a substitute on a Tuesday night against Cardiff, given the thankless task of marking Craig Bellamy. Adams remembers an inauspicious start. “It was at a time when a lot of senior pros had gone AWOL and I was under a lot of pressure to play the kids,” he said. “In the first couple of minutes the ball got switched across the back four and Harry fell over. It nearly cost us a goal but it didn’t affect his performance. “He was always very comfortable on the ball. There were doubts about his mobility, because of his size, but he didn’t get caught out too many times. “He was always going to be a player, it was just a case of what level he was going to get to. Am I surprised to see him doing so well? Possibly, but then again he’s a Yorkshireman like me and half the England team, and we always have good temperament!” Harry Maguire's was signed by Hull City for £2.2 million Credit: Reuters Maguire won three player of the year awards in a row at United, eventually earning a £2.5m move to Hull City in 2014. It proved a capricious experience in east Yorkshire, from Premier League relegation to victory in the Championship play-off final and then a second relegation. Spurs and Stoke both pursued Maguire last summer – Spurs even agreed a fee with Hull - but it was Leicester, and Shakespeare, who convinced him to choose a move to the east Midlands. Player of the season in his first campaign, Maguire will be offered a new contract on his return and Leicester want to build their team around him. He was also voted as Players' Player and is a huge favourite in the dressing room, with the presence of another Sheffielder, Jamie Vardy, in both the Leicester and England squads proving instructive. He has been nicknamed ‘Slab-Head’ by Vardy and earlier in the tournament an interview with the written press was gatecrashed by his team-mate. Vardy announced ‘Hi, this is Jamie Vardy from Vardy News – what is the diameter of your head?” to send Maguire into fits of laughter. Now, weeks later, he stands on the brink of reaching a World Cup finals. “To sign him for £17m or so, and then seeing him play for England the way he did against Colombia, proves he was a bargain,” says Shakespeare. “I was really impressed with the way he brought the ball out and stepped in positionally. Because of his background and upbringing, he’s one of those players who has still got the potential to improve.” World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
The making of Harry Maguire - how 'Slab-head' has become England's unlikely World Cup hero
From standing with his mates at Euro 2016 to playing in a World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, Harry Maguire is a man emboldened by having Three Lions on his shirt. Emerging as one of England’s most reliable defenders, Maguire has admirers at the Premier League’s top table yet still possesses the air of a man who has won a cereal packet competition to play for his country. Last week he was interviewed by the FA’s YouTube channel and gave a word-perfect rendition of ‘We’re On Our Way’, the England soundtrack which has followed the team around Russia. If the Leicester centre-half was not playing against Sweden last weekend, he would probably be in Samara watching from the terraces with his parents, brothers Laurence and Joe, sister Daisy, girlfriend Fern, and his mates. Maguire epitomises the new era of “good tourists” flourishing under Gareth Southgate and personifies the change in mentality that is winning hearts and minds. Harry Maguire is a born and bred Blades fan Credit: PA Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester and the man who signed him from Hull City, recalls a story from last summer which perfectly captures Maguire’s grounded personality. “He was identified as our main transfer target and shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him,” Shakespeare told Telegraph Sport. “We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. “I knew Leicester was the right club for him in terms of his personality. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. “I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Signed for £17m by Leicester, his performances at the World Cup continue the remarkable journey for the 25-year-old, from those early days with the Blades Academy. He supported Steel City rivals Sheffield Wednesday as a lad but joined United’s youth system and was quickly tipped as the one who would break through. With that familiar towering build and an unerring range of passing, the teenage Maguire led Sheffield United’s academy side to the FA Youth Final in 2011. Micky Adams gave him his debut at the age of 18, as a substitute on a Tuesday night against Cardiff, given the thankless task of marking Craig Bellamy. Adams remembers an inauspicious start. “It was at a time when a lot of senior pros had gone AWOL and I was under a lot of pressure to play the kids,” he said. “In the first couple of minutes the ball got switched across the back four and Harry fell over. It nearly cost us a goal but it didn’t affect his performance. “He was always very comfortable on the ball. There were doubts about his mobility, because of his size, but he didn’t get caught out too many times. “He was always going to be a player, it was just a case of what level he was going to get to. Am I surprised to see him doing so well? Possibly, but then again he’s a Yorkshireman like me and half the England team, and we always have good temperament!” Harry Maguire's was signed by Hull City for £2.2 million Credit: Reuters Maguire won three player of the year awards in a row at United, eventually earning a £2.5m move to Hull City in 2014. It proved a capricious experience in east Yorkshire, from Premier League relegation to victory in the Championship play-off final and then a second relegation. Spurs and Stoke both pursued Maguire last summer – Spurs even agreed a fee with Hull - but it was Leicester, and Shakespeare, who convinced him to choose a move to the east Midlands. Player of the season in his first campaign, Maguire will be offered a new contract on his return and Leicester want to build their team around him. He was also voted as Players' Player and is a huge favourite in the dressing room, with the presence of another Sheffielder, Jamie Vardy, in both the Leicester and England squads proving instructive. He has been nicknamed ‘Slab-Head’ by Vardy and earlier in the tournament an interview with the written press was gatecrashed by his team-mate. Vardy announced ‘Hi, this is Jamie Vardy from Vardy News – what is the diameter of your head?” to send Maguire into fits of laughter. Now, weeks later, he stands on the brink of reaching a World Cup finals. “To sign him for £17m or so, and then seeing him play for England the way he did against Colombia, proves he was a bargain,” says Shakespeare. “I was really impressed with the way he brought the ball out and stepped in positionally. Because of his background and upbringing, he’s one of those players who has still got the potential to improve.” World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
From standing with his mates at Euro 2016 to playing in a World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, Harry Maguire is a man emboldened by having Three Lions on his shirt. Emerging as one of England’s most reliable defenders, Maguire has admirers at the Premier League’s top table yet still possesses the air of a man who has won a cereal packet competition to play for his country. Last week he was interviewed by the FA’s YouTube channel and gave a word-perfect rendition of ‘We’re On Our Way’, the England soundtrack which has followed the team around Russia. If the Leicester centre-half was not playing against Sweden last weekend, he would probably be in Samara watching from the terraces with his parents, brothers Laurence and Joe, sister Daisy, girlfriend Fern, and his mates. Maguire epitomises the new era of “good tourists” flourishing under Gareth Southgate and personifies the change in mentality that is winning hearts and minds. Harry Maguire is a born and bred Blades fan Credit: PA Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester and the man who signed him from Hull City, recalls a story from last summer which perfectly captures Maguire’s grounded personality. “He was identified as our main transfer target and shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him,” Shakespeare told Telegraph Sport. “We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. “I knew Leicester was the right club for him in terms of his personality. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. “I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Signed for £17m by Leicester, his performances at the World Cup continue the remarkable journey for the 25-year-old, from those early days with the Blades Academy. He supported Steel City rivals Sheffield Wednesday as a lad but joined United’s youth system and was quickly tipped as the one who would break through. With that familiar towering build and an unerring range of passing, the teenage Maguire led Sheffield United’s academy side to the FA Youth Final in 2011. Micky Adams gave him his debut at the age of 18, as a substitute on a Tuesday night against Cardiff, given the thankless task of marking Craig Bellamy. Adams remembers an inauspicious start. “It was at a time when a lot of senior pros had gone AWOL and I was under a lot of pressure to play the kids,” he said. “In the first couple of minutes the ball got switched across the back four and Harry fell over. It nearly cost us a goal but it didn’t affect his performance. “He was always very comfortable on the ball. There were doubts about his mobility, because of his size, but he didn’t get caught out too many times. “He was always going to be a player, it was just a case of what level he was going to get to. Am I surprised to see him doing so well? Possibly, but then again he’s a Yorkshireman like me and half the England team, and we always have good temperament!” Harry Maguire's was signed by Hull City for £2.2 million Credit: Reuters Maguire won three player of the year awards in a row at United, eventually earning a £2.5m move to Hull City in 2014. It proved a capricious experience in east Yorkshire, from Premier League relegation to victory in the Championship play-off final and then a second relegation. Spurs and Stoke both pursued Maguire last summer – Spurs even agreed a fee with Hull - but it was Leicester, and Shakespeare, who convinced him to choose a move to the east Midlands. Player of the season in his first campaign, Maguire will be offered a new contract on his return and Leicester want to build their team around him. He was also voted as Players' Player and is a huge favourite in the dressing room, with the presence of another Sheffielder, Jamie Vardy, in both the Leicester and England squads proving instructive. He has been nicknamed ‘Slab-Head’ by Vardy and earlier in the tournament an interview with the written press was gatecrashed by his team-mate. Vardy announced ‘Hi, this is Jamie Vardy from Vardy News – what is the diameter of your head?” to send Maguire into fits of laughter. Now, weeks later, he stands on the brink of reaching a World Cup finals. “To sign him for £17m or so, and then seeing him play for England the way he did against Colombia, proves he was a bargain,” says Shakespeare. “I was really impressed with the way he brought the ball out and stepped in positionally. Because of his background and upbringing, he’s one of those players who has still got the potential to improve.” World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
The making of Harry Maguire - how 'Slab-head' has become England's unlikely World Cup hero
From standing with his mates at Euro 2016 to playing in a World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, Harry Maguire is a man emboldened by having Three Lions on his shirt. Emerging as one of England’s most reliable defenders, Maguire has admirers at the Premier League’s top table yet still possesses the air of a man who has won a cereal packet competition to play for his country. Last week he was interviewed by the FA’s YouTube channel and gave a word-perfect rendition of ‘We’re On Our Way’, the England soundtrack which has followed the team around Russia. If the Leicester centre-half was not playing against Sweden last weekend, he would probably be in Samara watching from the terraces with his parents, brothers Laurence and Joe, sister Daisy, girlfriend Fern, and his mates. Maguire epitomises the new era of “good tourists” flourishing under Gareth Southgate and personifies the change in mentality that is winning hearts and minds. Harry Maguire is a born and bred Blades fan Credit: PA Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester and the man who signed him from Hull City, recalls a story from last summer which perfectly captures Maguire’s grounded personality. “He was identified as our main transfer target and shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him,” Shakespeare told Telegraph Sport. “We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. “I knew Leicester was the right club for him in terms of his personality. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. “I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Signed for £17m by Leicester, his performances at the World Cup continue the remarkable journey for the 25-year-old, from those early days with the Blades Academy. He supported Steel City rivals Sheffield Wednesday as a lad but joined United’s youth system and was quickly tipped as the one who would break through. With that familiar towering build and an unerring range of passing, the teenage Maguire led Sheffield United’s academy side to the FA Youth Final in 2011. Micky Adams gave him his debut at the age of 18, as a substitute on a Tuesday night against Cardiff, given the thankless task of marking Craig Bellamy. Adams remembers an inauspicious start. “It was at a time when a lot of senior pros had gone AWOL and I was under a lot of pressure to play the kids,” he said. “In the first couple of minutes the ball got switched across the back four and Harry fell over. It nearly cost us a goal but it didn’t affect his performance. “He was always very comfortable on the ball. There were doubts about his mobility, because of his size, but he didn’t get caught out too many times. “He was always going to be a player, it was just a case of what level he was going to get to. Am I surprised to see him doing so well? Possibly, but then again he’s a Yorkshireman like me and half the England team, and we always have good temperament!” Harry Maguire's was signed by Hull City for £2.2 million Credit: Reuters Maguire won three player of the year awards in a row at United, eventually earning a £2.5m move to Hull City in 2014. It proved a capricious experience in east Yorkshire, from Premier League relegation to victory in the Championship play-off final and then a second relegation. Spurs and Stoke both pursued Maguire last summer – Spurs even agreed a fee with Hull - but it was Leicester, and Shakespeare, who convinced him to choose a move to the east Midlands. Player of the season in his first campaign, Maguire will be offered a new contract on his return and Leicester want to build their team around him. He was also voted as Players' Player and is a huge favourite in the dressing room, with the presence of another Sheffielder, Jamie Vardy, in both the Leicester and England squads proving instructive. He has been nicknamed ‘Slab-Head’ by Vardy and earlier in the tournament an interview with the written press was gatecrashed by his team-mate. Vardy announced ‘Hi, this is Jamie Vardy from Vardy News – what is the diameter of your head?” to send Maguire into fits of laughter. Now, weeks later, he stands on the brink of reaching a World Cup finals. “To sign him for £17m or so, and then seeing him play for England the way he did against Colombia, proves he was a bargain,” says Shakespeare. “I was really impressed with the way he brought the ball out and stepped in positionally. Because of his background and upbringing, he’s one of those players who has still got the potential to improve.” World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
From standing with his mates at Euro 2016 to playing in a World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, Harry Maguire is a man emboldened by having Three Lions on his shirt. Emerging as one of England’s most reliable defenders, Maguire has admirers at the Premier League’s top table yet still possesses the air of a man who has won a cereal packet competition to play for his country. Last week he was interviewed by the FA’s YouTube channel and gave a word-perfect rendition of ‘We’re On Our Way’, the England soundtrack which has followed the team around Russia. If the Leicester centre-half was not playing against Sweden last weekend, he would probably be in Samara watching from the terraces with his parents, brothers Laurence and Joe, sister Daisy, girlfriend Fern, and his mates. Maguire epitomises the new era of “good tourists” flourishing under Gareth Southgate and personifies the change in mentality that is winning hearts and minds. Harry Maguire is a born and bred Blades fan Credit: PA Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester and the man who signed him from Hull City, recalls a story from last summer which perfectly captures Maguire’s grounded personality. “He was identified as our main transfer target and shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him,” Shakespeare told Telegraph Sport. “We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. “I knew Leicester was the right club for him in terms of his personality. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. “I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Signed for £17m by Leicester, his performances at the World Cup continue the remarkable journey for the 25-year-old, from those early days with the Blades Academy. He supported Steel City rivals Sheffield Wednesday as a lad but joined United’s youth system and was quickly tipped as the one who would break through. With that familiar towering build and an unerring range of passing, the teenage Maguire led Sheffield United’s academy side to the FA Youth Final in 2011. Micky Adams gave him his debut at the age of 18, as a substitute on a Tuesday night against Cardiff, given the thankless task of marking Craig Bellamy. Adams remembers an inauspicious start. “It was at a time when a lot of senior pros had gone AWOL and I was under a lot of pressure to play the kids,” he said. “In the first couple of minutes the ball got switched across the back four and Harry fell over. It nearly cost us a goal but it didn’t affect his performance. “He was always very comfortable on the ball. There were doubts about his mobility, because of his size, but he didn’t get caught out too many times. “He was always going to be a player, it was just a case of what level he was going to get to. Am I surprised to see him doing so well? Possibly, but then again he’s a Yorkshireman like me and half the England team, and we always have good temperament!” Harry Maguire's was signed by Hull City for £2.2 million Credit: Reuters Maguire won three player of the year awards in a row at United, eventually earning a £2.5m move to Hull City in 2014. It proved a capricious experience in east Yorkshire, from Premier League relegation to victory in the Championship play-off final and then a second relegation. Spurs and Stoke both pursued Maguire last summer – Spurs even agreed a fee with Hull - but it was Leicester, and Shakespeare, who convinced him to choose a move to the east Midlands. Player of the season in his first campaign, Maguire will be offered a new contract on his return and Leicester want to build their team around him. He was also voted as Players' Player and is a huge favourite in the dressing room, with the presence of another Sheffielder, Jamie Vardy, in both the Leicester and England squads proving instructive. He has been nicknamed ‘Slab-Head’ by Vardy and earlier in the tournament an interview with the written press was gatecrashed by his team-mate. Vardy announced ‘Hi, this is Jamie Vardy from Vardy News – what is the diameter of your head?” to send Maguire into fits of laughter. Now, weeks later, he stands on the brink of reaching a World Cup finals. “To sign him for £17m or so, and then seeing him play for England the way he did against Colombia, proves he was a bargain,” says Shakespeare. “I was really impressed with the way he brought the ball out and stepped in positionally. Because of his background and upbringing, he’s one of those players who has still got the potential to improve.” World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
The making of Harry Maguire - how 'Slab-head' has become England's unlikely World Cup hero
From standing with his mates at Euro 2016 to playing in a World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, Harry Maguire is a man emboldened by having Three Lions on his shirt. Emerging as one of England’s most reliable defenders, Maguire has admirers at the Premier League’s top table yet still possesses the air of a man who has won a cereal packet competition to play for his country. Last week he was interviewed by the FA’s YouTube channel and gave a word-perfect rendition of ‘We’re On Our Way’, the England soundtrack which has followed the team around Russia. If the Leicester centre-half was not playing against Sweden last weekend, he would probably be in Samara watching from the terraces with his parents, brothers Laurence and Joe, sister Daisy, girlfriend Fern, and his mates. Maguire epitomises the new era of “good tourists” flourishing under Gareth Southgate and personifies the change in mentality that is winning hearts and minds. Harry Maguire is a born and bred Blades fan Credit: PA Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester and the man who signed him from Hull City, recalls a story from last summer which perfectly captures Maguire’s grounded personality. “He was identified as our main transfer target and shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him,” Shakespeare told Telegraph Sport. “We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. “I knew Leicester was the right club for him in terms of his personality. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. “I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Signed for £17m by Leicester, his performances at the World Cup continue the remarkable journey for the 25-year-old, from those early days with the Blades Academy. He supported Steel City rivals Sheffield Wednesday as a lad but joined United’s youth system and was quickly tipped as the one who would break through. With that familiar towering build and an unerring range of passing, the teenage Maguire led Sheffield United’s academy side to the FA Youth Final in 2011. Micky Adams gave him his debut at the age of 18, as a substitute on a Tuesday night against Cardiff, given the thankless task of marking Craig Bellamy. Adams remembers an inauspicious start. “It was at a time when a lot of senior pros had gone AWOL and I was under a lot of pressure to play the kids,” he said. “In the first couple of minutes the ball got switched across the back four and Harry fell over. It nearly cost us a goal but it didn’t affect his performance. “He was always very comfortable on the ball. There were doubts about his mobility, because of his size, but he didn’t get caught out too many times. “He was always going to be a player, it was just a case of what level he was going to get to. Am I surprised to see him doing so well? Possibly, but then again he’s a Yorkshireman like me and half the England team, and we always have good temperament!” Harry Maguire's was signed by Hull City for £2.2 million Credit: Reuters Maguire won three player of the year awards in a row at United, eventually earning a £2.5m move to Hull City in 2014. It proved a capricious experience in east Yorkshire, from Premier League relegation to victory in the Championship play-off final and then a second relegation. Spurs and Stoke both pursued Maguire last summer – Spurs even agreed a fee with Hull - but it was Leicester, and Shakespeare, who convinced him to choose a move to the east Midlands. Player of the season in his first campaign, Maguire will be offered a new contract on his return and Leicester want to build their team around him. He was also voted as Players' Player and is a huge favourite in the dressing room, with the presence of another Sheffielder, Jamie Vardy, in both the Leicester and England squads proving instructive. He has been nicknamed ‘Slab-Head’ by Vardy and earlier in the tournament an interview with the written press was gatecrashed by his team-mate. Vardy announced ‘Hi, this is Jamie Vardy from Vardy News – what is the diameter of your head?” to send Maguire into fits of laughter. Now, weeks later, he stands on the brink of reaching a World Cup finals. “To sign him for £17m or so, and then seeing him play for England the way he did against Colombia, proves he was a bargain,” says Shakespeare. “I was really impressed with the way he brought the ball out and stepped in positionally. Because of his background and upbringing, he’s one of those players who has still got the potential to improve.” World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Revealed: The untold stories of how England's young guns were set on the road to World Cup glory
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Revealed: The untold stories of how England's young guns were set on the road to World Cup glory
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Revealed: The untold stories of how England's young guns were set on the road to World Cup glory
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Revealed: The untold stories of how England's young guns were set on the road to World Cup glory
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Revealed: The untold stories of how England's young guns were set on the road to World Cup glory
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Revealed: The untold stories of how England's young guns were set on the road to World Cup glory
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Revealed: The untold stories of how England's young guns were set on the road to World Cup glory
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Revealed: The untold stories of how England's young guns were set on the road to World Cup glory
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Revealed: The untold stories of how England's young guns were set on the road to World Cup glory
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Revealed: The untold stories of how England's young guns were set on the road to World Cup glory
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Revealed: The untold stories of how England's young guns were set on the road to World Cup glory
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Revealed: The untold stories of how England's young guns were set on the road to World Cup glory
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
On the eve of the biggest game of their lives, we asked the coaches, managers and mentors for Gareth Southgate’s squad to reveal the untold stories behind their inspirational journeys. Trent Alexander-Arnold Ben Woodburn, his team-mate at Liverpool We first played together at Liverpool for the under-16s. It was a really good team under Pep Ljinders and we only lost once that season. Trent would do anything to win. He was angry as captain. He has calmed down a bit since then. If you had said a year ago this was going to happen, probably we’d have said no. But watching him last season it did not surprise me one bit. He has become a role model for every academy player at Liverpool and it is credit to all the coaches there. They make it a tough but fun working environment and make you ready for the next step. Trent Alexander-Arnold Before he left, I told Trent, ‘When you come on for England try and score for your country as quickly as I did for Wales’. I have FaceTimed him a few times since he’s been in Russia. We’ve been talking about what is going on and how he has been watching Love Island. He seems to be enjoying it. Dele Alli Dan Micciche, his assistant academy manager at MK Dons I was just moving from Tottenham’s academy to MK Dons when I saw Dele play against Spurs. He was 11 and he stood out immediately as a risk-taker. He would nutmeg opponents or flick the ball over their head in tight spaces. You don’t see that much in academy football but he did it and if the trick didn’t work it never seemed to affect him. At MK Dons I ended up his coach for five years. It was a new academy and that meant the boys got lots of game-time and Dele probably never experienced being subbed. We did not have great facilities or even much kit but the boys started beating much bigger clubs. Dele had a great friendship and rivalry with George Williams, who has played for Wales, and they would try to outscore each other. The Hickford family took him under their wing and he lived with them. They have been such a positive impact on his life. Dele Alli Credit: getty images We played Charlton at Under-15s and there was an England scout there. He took my teamsheet almost like he was doing me a favour, The next day he was on the phone asking about five of our players and Dele was one. In the year below was Sheyi Ojo who would play up a year and is now at Liverpool. Of that team I think only one did not have a professional career. The kind of player Dele was - especially with all those nutmegs - they can be mistrusted in English football but at MK Dons we encouraged that. He went through a growth spurt and was in the first team when he was a first year scholar. By year two of his scholarship he was a first team regular and then he did one year as a professional before he left. He was always ambitious and he made the right decisions. MK Dons suited him because we had that underdog mentality, playing against big clubs with great pitches and lots of players. Dele thrived in those situations. England beat Sweden... | ...World Cup semi-finals await Jack Butland Peter Coates, his chairman at Stoke We took a chance when we signed him from Birmingham [for £3.5m in Jan 2013] because he was unproven. But our guys rated him really highly and had no doubts he would prove an outstanding signing. In the 2015-16 season he really was excellent for us and proved he was clearly the best goalkeeper in England. I just think he’s had a bit of bad luck with the [ankle] injury, which he picked up playing for England, and we missed him for a year. Jack Butland Credit: getty images That has set him back but he’s got over the disappointment of not playing in Russia and I know Gareth appreciates the big part he’s played around the squad. He’s a super lad, very intelligent and a good team player. Gary Cahill Steve Cotterill, gave him his debut at Burnley We signed Gary on loan from Villa and gave him his debut at 18 years of age. Villa's academy always had a brilliant reputation with their young players, giving them a tough upbringing, and in Gary’s case it clearly worked. He was a diamond in his season with us and playing in the Championship will have toughened him up because it is real blood-and-thunder stuff, the kind of challenge kids don’t face in the reserves. Gary Cahill Credit: getty images I wanted to sign him permanently and I kept on at the chairman at the time, Barry Kilby, to make Villa an offer. He might just have been affordable. Bolton got him a couple of years later for £5million. He was a top player at that age and has only improved, he deserves everything that’s come his way. Fabian Delph Paul Jewell, recommended him to Leeds' academy My son, Sam, played for the under-11s in Bradford and was in the same team as Fabian. A lot of people were talking about Delph and saying he was something special. It’s true that he used to walk past the scouts after games and say: “Fabian Delph – remember the name!” Fabian Delph Credit: arsenalyouth.wordpress.com He always had a sharp sense of humour but, more importantly, he was a very good midfield player. I was at Bradford as manager around that time and recommended him to Leeds. That was the start for him and his progress since then has been remarkable. Eric Dier Marco Silva, his manager at Sporting Lisbon I had Eric very young at Sporting but at the beginning of that pre-season I realised that I was in the presence of a young man who was going to play at the very highest level. He had great physical quality and technical and tactical ability for his age and with a great sense of professionalism. He had an excellent relationship with all his colleagues and staff. Eric Dier Credit: afp I only had one problem and that was not being able to keep him at the club any longer because he had a huge ambition to come back to the UK and play in the Premier League and the club had to sell him. Tottenham bought him after one month. In recent years everything that we have noticed has been proven. With hard work and quality he has achieved. Jordan Henderson Steve Bruce, his manager at Sunderland The first time I saw Jordan Henderson in pre-season at Sunderland I liked him, he was a great lad, a smashing character, but he also has this unquenchable first to win. That struck me from the moment I laid eyes on him. Everything he did in training, whether it was a race, or a kickabout, he wanted to win. He was this young kid, encouraging others, carrying them with him. I gave him his debut at Sunderland and he never came out of the team after that. He is one of those players that every manager wants, because when you decide on your team, you go to bed the night before the match and you know what you are going to get from him the following day. Jordan Henderson Credit: getty images He just loves playing football and he has carried the same enthusiasm he had when he was 8-years old into his professional career. I was the same, maybe that is why we got on so well. He always had great athleticism, he doesn’t have a trick on the ball, he hasn’t got great pace, but he makes the most of what he has got. He has always been able to cross a ball and strike it cleanly and he never stops running. Whatever problem you set Jordan, if there is a weakness in his game that you want him to work on, he thinks about it, works out what he needs to do and goes away and does everything he can to improve. He has captained Sunderland, Liverpool and England. That tells you everything you need to know. Phil Jones Gary Bowyer, his former youth team coach at Blackburn When Steve Nixon, who is now Newcastle’s chief scout, spotted him he was playing as a right winger but we moved him to central midfield and then centre-half. He had a sticky first couple of months as a full time scholar but he finished so strongly towards the end of his scholarship. He’d been playing two years up for the Under-18s and made his first team debut when he was only 17 away at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup. I went to the game, he did ever so well as a holding midfielder and he’s never looked back. I can still remember his Premier League debut now against Chelsea at Ewood Park. Phil Jones Credit: getty images We were in the semi finals of the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea at the time but he was obviously not with us as we travelled to London because he was playing their first team! It was a bittersweet one for us because we needed him but we were absolutely delighted for him. The moment that really got the crowd on his side was when he put in a very strong tackle on Didier Drogba and then followed that up with another big one on Frank Lampard and you were like, ‘Wow’. What stood out about Phil was his mentality to succeed and get better every day. We had a successful age group at Blackburn at the time with Phil and Grant Hanley, who were our centre-half pairing, and Jason Lowe and Josh Morris. But those two in particular - Phil and Grant - were men playing youth football. Harry Kane Tim Sherwood, his former head of football development at Tottenham I saw Harry first when he was playing in the Under-18s at Tottenham and he was already playing up a year then. Harry was always physically strong and we knew he would get bigger because his dad Pat was a big guy. At that stage you are waiting for the power to come. I think you are born with strength and speed, the skill and technique you learn. And Harry was a great learner. Harry Kane Credit: getty images We saw him as a project. He wanted to learn and he was not afraid to ask questions. He wanted to know the reason we were asking him to do things. Asking questions as a young footballer is not a weakness - it is a good thing. We sent him on his first loan to Leyton Orient when he was 18, along with his friend Tom Carroll. It was perfect for us because we could watch them both easily and if they had a day off they would come back to Spurs and so some work on the things we felt were important. Harry was playing for three points in front of crowds, who celebrated when he scored. He did okay there and it was meaningful football. I think Barry Hearn paid for the squad to have a trip to Las Vegas and I remember Harry and Tom asking me if they could go. Of course I said yes. Even on holiday I knew those two would still be training every day. Jesse Lingard Paul McGuinness, his former youth team coach at Manchester United There are hundreds of people involved in the development of a player, at so many levels, and that's true with Jesse. His story goes back to when he was eight or nine - he was always very skilful and bright, just as he is now, on and off the pitch. He was a late developer, which meant that he was much smaller than a lot of his opponents and team mates. But we always really tried to give him belief and reassure him that, actually, being small could be of benefit - look at Messi and Modric. Jesse had to think quicker, move quicker and that helped develop his style. Jesse Lingard Credit: getty images We reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2011 and although he was still small, he was in the team on merit. In the semi-final at Stamford Bridge, he was nervous – it was a massive game, played at Stamford Bridge. About five minutes had gone and he went down and the physio ran on. When he came back I asked the physio if Jesse was injured but he said: ‘No, no, he’s just been sick on the pitch – he’s been that nervous’. He recovered from that and he scored in that game and then did very well in the final. Those big games are a massive part of any player’s development and something we want more of. Incidentally, the final of that was at Bramall Lane in front of 32,000 and Harry Maguire was playing both legs as well. I think if you asked both of them, that game and the 20,000 at Old Trafford - it made them want more of those sorts of occasions. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Adi Viveash, former Chelsea academy coach and now Coventry assistant manager Ruben was always technically gifted, as well as having that powerful frame. Like a lot of teenagers he went through physical problems with growth spurts and he did have to learn how to hand his body. Ruben Loftus-Cheek Credit: getty images When he was 17 there were concerns over whether he would be able to get through 90 minutes. But, because he had those periods out of the game, he did a lot of work on analysis. He watched Frank Lampard and there was a lot of work done to try and stimulate his brain, which is definitely elite in football terms. Harry Maguire Craig Shakespeare, his former manager at Leicester Shortly after the end of the season he was on a city break in Majorca with his family and I went out to meet him. We had lunch and I told him the club’s plans, what I thought of him and how he could improve. There was a lot of potential there, right back to the boy I saw at Sheffield United, but I thought Leicester was the right club for him. He really grew on me in the meeting, with all the questions he was asking about the style of play and Leicester as a football club. I thought this kid could go far so I was really pleased we could eventually seal the deal because there were other clubs chasing him. He could have gone to Spurs but chose Leicester. Harry Maguire Credit: getty images I was on family holiday, as was he, and hopefully that lunch went someway to sealing the deal. He came across with humility but with a desire to improve and get better. He was excellent around the dressing room and slotted in from day one. He’s so easy-going and when we went to Austria for pre-season it was like he’d been with us for years. Jordan Pickford Craig Liddle, his former coach at Darlington I think you always hope people like Jordan can go on and become one of the best but you never really know how it’s going to work out. At 17 he certainly looked capable. Full credit to him as all the years of hard work and dedication are paying off. He was 17 at the time I worked with him at Darlington. You’re obviously worried about throwing a young kid like that in goal. But he was always a really confident lad and he fitted in well straight away. He made his debut in front of about 7,000 people against Fleetwood. We lost 1-0, but about 10 minutes into the game I remember Jordan piling through a crowd of players to catch a corner. I thought: ‘You’ll do for me’. During that game alone, he pulled off three or four top class saves. Jordan Pickford Credit: EMPICS Sport He made mistakes, but you’ve got to expect that from a young keeper. The most impressive thing was the way in which he didn’t let the odd mistake bother him. What he was capable of was making fantastic reflex saves. He had confidence in his own ability, and that was impressive in someone so young. Nick Pope Richard Wilkins, his former manager at Bury Town Nick was very confident and very laid-back. He was a little bit gangly, but was never a Bambi on ice. He did not worry about his appearance, or about having the flashest pair of gloves. He just made saves. That is what a goalkeeper is there for and there were no dramas with him, no issues. Nick Pope When he made mistakes he put his hands up, and he always listened. He was interested in gaining knowledge, getting better and working on stuff. He was a little bit like a Schmeichel in that he would save shots with his leg, with his hip. Marcus Rashford Mark Gaynord, his former coach at Fletcher Moss Rangers What struck me most about Marcus was that he was just so natural with the football. He would do Maradona turns, Ronaldo step-overs, Cruyff turns, I didn’t have to teach him, whereas the rest of the team I really had to work hard with. He has always been very fast and skilful but he was humble about everything he did. You would get other kids who would rave about a goal they had scored against someone but Marcus was never like that. Other managers would stop and say, ‘Who’s this kid, where’ve you got him from?’ Marcus Rashford He would be with United, City, Liverpool and he would miss one or two of our sessions but he would come back and straight away he would be ahead of everyone. The first time I realised he was very special was when we went to the Cliff (United’s old academy base and training ground) and the first day he was there he was tearing all the other academy players to pieces. I turned to his mum and said, “Mel, you’ve got a footballer on your hands here”. She laughed at me. I said, “Mel, I’ve played football all my life, I played with Nicky Butt and Rae Ingram, who played for City, I knew Nicky Butt was going to make it as a footballer and it’s the same with Marcus.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news Danny Rose Harry Redknapp, his former manager at Tottenham When I had Danny coming through, he had played a lot of games for the England Under-21 team as a winger but I always thought he would be a left-back. I must have told him 100 times: "You will play for England as a left-back." I felt that he was the best left-back in the country and I think that he still is. Danny Rose Credit: getty images Ashley Young is going great but he can play Gareth Southgate’s system as well. If Tottenham were going to sell Danny, and you needed a left-back - and I don’t even care if it was Real Madrid - Danny should be top of the list. He can play anywhere. Raheem Sterling George Lappas, his coach at Brent under-11s I was a coach who had volunteered to look after the Under-11 representative team for the London borough of Brent, where Raheem grew up in Stonebridge. I was first told about him by the England international Rachel Yankey who had done some coaching work in a pupil referral unit where Raheem was spending some time. She said she had met a kid with incredible potential. When we first got him down to a trial he was much smaller than we expected but he was easily our best player in a very strong year. We discovered a problem with Raheem when he was 10-11 years old. He just could not handle being tackled. He would get very emotional and there would be tears. It came to a head when we played against Dagenham and Redbridge and he was taking a few kicks. He left the pitch and came back with a handful of stones and before we knew it he was pelting the other side. Raheem Sterling Credit: getty images We were shocked but talking to him we discovered for the first time the story about his dad. We felt that by kicking him out we would be making him vulnerable to bad influence and also he loved football so much. So we decided to ban him for four games and set him four pieces of homework. The first was to list the attributes of his perfect footballer. The second was to discuss why they were important. The third was to discuss how he measured up in those a tributes, marks out of ten. Finally we talked about what he could do to improve. When he came back he was sensational. Brilliant on the pitch and never a moment’s trouble. I saw him give an interview to ITV recently when he talked about this time in his life and said how hard it was for him to be banned from football. I think he said he was banned for six months but I can assure him it was only four games! And for those four games he came along and watched and supported the team. As a kid he just loved football and we are so proud of what he has achieved. We use him as an example for our boys and girls. John Stones Keith Hill, his former manager at Barnsley Even when John was an apprentice at Barnsley, we knew he was a special player. It was down to his attitude: everything was geared towards his career and he had a winning mentality. It was his outstanding character that made him stand out. John is a disciple of the game. He wants to learn, he wants to improve. He had that desire from a young age and was always grounded, despite being so gifted. There was no arrogance. We knew we had a Rolls Royce of a player. It was just a question of nurturing him and making sure he was not over-exposed. John Stones Credit: getty images You have to applaud the bravery of the way he plays, which is how he has played throughout his career. It has helped that he John never been a materially ambitious person. He is all about winning. At the end of his career he wants to be counting his medals, not his money. Kieran Trippier Steve Eyre, his academy coach at Manchester City Kieran came in as a nine-year-old and was already one of the best players in the system. He was skilful and talented and had an unbelievable shot. At 12, you start playing on full-sized pitches, he suddenly had more space and he rose to the challenge. Eventually at 16, we moved him on the pitch from right midfield to right back and by the time he was 18, when we won the FA Youth Cup final, he’d settled in there. We were as certain as we could be that he was an England international of the future. Kieran Trippier Credit: getty images He was that good as a youngster, he really did understand the football match through the coaches’ eyes. He also copied the coaches’ dialogue, copied how we spoke to the rest of the team, and he was very much an ally for you on the field. Jamie Vardy Andy Pilley, his former chairman at Fleetwood Town We signed him from Halifax for £150,000 and the big issue for any club was whether he could do it in professional football. He’d scored bagfuls of goals against the plumber, the postman and the electrician but could do he do it against professional athletes? Jamie Vardy Credit: getty images In the Conference he almost found it too easy. He was exceptionally quick, raw and his finishing was lethal. He got us promoted and I think we’d have steamrollered League Two if he’d stayed. We sold him to Leicester for £1m, a non-league record, and now he’s going to be involved at a World Cup semi-final. I was at the Belgium and Colombia games in Russia and it was a special moment to see him playing there. I’m desperate for him to be involved against Croatia and it doesn’t matter if it’s a semi-final, Jamie will not be bothered as he’s always had that confidence in his own ability. World Cup 2018 | Fixtures, groups, squads and more Kyle Walker Howard Holmes, his mentor at Football Unites, Racism Divides I first met Kyle when he was seven. Our offices were very close to his estate, the Landsdowne Estate, and he was always running around the place, with mates who were all a lot older than him. We put these sessions on at a pitch nearby, but you had to get in a car or a minibus to get up there. There was no room for him in the car to get up over there so he was left behind, kicking a ball or whatever, but when one of the kids didn’t turn up, one of the lads shouted to him: ‘Get your boots and you can come with us.’ He never stopped running, but he had some skill and he always wanted to know tricks. Kyle Walker Credit: getty images I was incredibly proud that Kyle got me a ticket for the Colombia game. I got it with about 15 minutes to spare and I walked up the gangway and came out onto the pitch and the teams were just lining up. Kyle was on his own, right in front of me praying, looking up to the sky and I was screaming at him ‘Kyle, I got the ticket’, but he was busy getting in the zone. I know he asked his Mum afterwards whether I'd got it - not many footballers would do that. Danny Welbeck Dave Bushell, his former head of education and welfare at Manchester United Danny was always a lovely young man, a very good player, easy to get on with, mixed well with all the groups and staff, appreciative of every bit of support he was given, no matter who it was from, and had great backing from his two elder brothers, Chris and Wayne, who were very bright. His brothers went to university and his mum and dad believed very strongly in his education. Danny was being pulled in a lot of directions because he was wanted by United’s reserves, the first team and he was an England schoolboy. It meant he didn’t finish his Btech programme in May of the season when he was approaching 18 but he came back to finish it in his holidays in the July, which said a lot about his character. Danny Welbeck Credit: getty images He’s always kept in touch - he’s from a wonderful family. As someone who looked after him as a young boy I like to send a message every now and he replied to me a few weeks before the World Cup saying ‘This is where all the hard work starts now Dave’. He demonstrated a lot of character to get back into the England squad for the World Cup after his injuries. Ashley Young Andy Braithwaite, his PE Teacher at John Henry Newman School Ashley was 11 when I first taught him. He was fairly quiet and was slightly built compared to his peers. He was technically the best boy in the year group by a long way, but due his smaller physique, in matches he did not stand out as much as he should have done. This slowly changed over the five years he played in school fixtures, and by the time he had reached the age of 16, Ashley was an outstanding footballer. His attitude in his PE lessons was excellent. He was head and shoulders above most boys in his PE group, but he always worked hard and would help the weaker pupils in the lesson. Ashley Young Credit: getty images His commitment was absolute: many a time his mum would be waiting at the end of a school game to drive Ashley the 40 minutes to Watford for training. In 30 years of teaching I have never come across any other Academy player who has been so passionate about playing football for his school team. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article