Southampton Football Club have always had a brilliant track record and knack for developing youth products and talent from within their academy. They have a structured model to produce high-level first team players. Their approach allows them to keep these players until they are developed enough to be able to attract interest from bigger clubs and then sell these graduates for large money transfers. This therefore helps Southampton to be financially safe for the future and reinvest into the next generation of stars. You only have to look at some of the examples of world-class and high level players who have come from within their youth development structure: Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alan Shearer and Adam Lallana to name a few. Added into this, Southampton’s academy vision is to ‘’produce a first team year-on-year made up of 50% Academy graduates who are world-class in their technical ability on the field as well as behaviours off the field’’. Why is their academy vision so successful and what do they do to make this vision come true on such a frequent basis?

Southampton has always been a football club that prides themselves on being able produce talented youth who are capable of big things. You may think it is only a more recent trend but, in reality The Saints have always been able to produce high level youth even well before they became a Category 1 academy in 2012. Matt Le Tissier, Dennis Wise and Wayne Bridge were developed at Southampton as were more recent graduates like James Ward-Prowse, Matt Targett and Jack Stephens . Southampton put a lot of faith in their youth, and don’t just train their youngsters how to be footballers but also how to thrive in life, through their education programme. They have a philosophy of ‘’turning Potential into Excellence’’ and it is evident that this is a philosophy that works. Southampton as a club has a family culture and puts every player at the centre of what they do. The success of Southampton’s academy by many is credited towards what they call the academies ‘10 Commandments’, these are behaviours and traits that the club believes any elite player should and needs to possess.

image of Southampton’s academy; 10 commandments as pictured within the academy training ground.

You may have heard quotes such as ‘’Southampton has one of the best academies in the whole of world football’’. It may be hard to belive but there is hard evidence that this is the case. Take for example a recent study by the The International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES), that calculated that the fees received by Southampton for the sales of: Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers summed up to almost 40% of the total income of the Premier League teams for the transfers of home-grown footballers during the three seasons before 2015 at around €90 million. This put them at the top of the standings as the most profitable youth academy. It goes a long way to illustrate how much profit and revenue Southampton has made through the selling of their youth players and outlines the importance of having strong academy ethos and philosophies.

Former Southampton youth graduate Gareth Bale

Southampton FC are a proven and accredited club who are proud of their youth. They develop many world-class and high level football players, through their highly structured and punctual academy system and rules. They have an academy vision that refuses to fail due to both its focus on technical ability as well as their respect, morals and aim to build the players as people not just footballers.

Post by Samuel Cox, Back Of The Net contributor. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

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