The FA Youth Cup has long been lauded as England’s most prestigious under age competition. It’s traditionally a tournament where the stars of tomorrow first scream their names in anger, shouting “we have arrived” , “I’m ready for that boot deal” and “hit me up on Twitter @Iscoregoalznbitches”.
It was usually a given that the youngsters involved in the Cup’s yearly two legged final had a more than decent chance of having a successful top flight career.
Not all would make it of course, but if your club had a youth side that made it all the way to the Cup’s last fixture, there was a strong possibility that a couple of teenaged gems were just about ready for first team action.
It is considered the show piece for England’s production line in many ways, a chance to evaluate the crème de la crème of up and comers. Well, at least that used to be the case.
A chronological examination doesn’t need to be fastidious to show that top talent produced from Youth Cup winning teams and runners up has gradually slowed and almost come to an abrupt stop this decade.
But hey, don’t take my word for it; let’s take a look at the some of the names who have featured in Youth Cup finals. I’ve picked out the players who I feel have made a good impact in top level football. If you feel that I have left anyone out, let me know, but I think I’ve been more than fair:
Yikes. Pretty damning eh? Of course, it is important to acknowledge that players who featured in the finals from say 2012 onwards are young and still have time to make that list, but it doesn’t look good. I’d happily wager now that none of them actually do. (Happily in the sense that I would be confident of winning the wager, not happy that a young footballer’s careers will stagnate – I’m not THAT much of a prick).
It’s common knowledge, or at least a general consensus, that English football has hit a bit of brick wall in terms of producing their own talent. The reasons for that are as complicated as they are plentiful and they have discussed to death, so I’m not going to get into that here.
I just thought I’d leave you with a nice easy to read list to help illustrate the obvious decline.
by Simon Winter