The big Bang Englishman with the ball at his feet was in 2017. The pross they were crowned for the first time world champions under-20 and under-17, also of the European Under-19 Championship. Although intermingled in the teams, Foden, Sancho, James, Mount and Calvert-Lewin celebrated laurels on the grass that are now projected in England’s historic first final in a European Championship, with Italy in the other corner (Sunday, Telecinco, 9:00 p.m. ). A generation that is added to the one that the now coach Gareth Southgate led in the U21s with Pickford, Stones, Shaw, Kane, Sterling… It is not an accidental result.
In 2010, concerned about the little presence of English in the Premier since the Bosman law was applied in 1995, the representatives of the clubs met to overturn the academy system. In that course, for example, there were only 194 natives for the 227 that was reached in the 2014-15 season or the 256 of this last Premier.
The clubs understood that they were competing at a disadvantage with other countries and that they did not squeeze the potential of their players because behind the scenes was the uncomfortable rule that a team could not sign a boy under 16 unless he was at most a distance an hour and a half by car. Thus, in October 2011, the 72 clubs in the Football league [son las tres categorías inferiores a la Premier] voted —46 in favor, 22 against, three no-shows and one abstention— apply the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) in all professional clubs, summary of the proposals they received from the academy directors . And, although he also has his sad and abusive face, the England quarry took a step forward that is now explained in the successes of the absolute, also semifinalist of the past World Cup.
The unified program is structured in phases – initial (5 to 11 years); youth (12-16) and professional (17-21) – and consists of four areas. The first is the match program, which is the creation of all possible competitions at the highest national and international level with experiences such as the Floodlit Cup (sub-15), at night and in winter with adverse weather, or the Los Cup (sub-14), which is made with the same format as the Champions League. The second is Education, an inflexible condition. The Premier, for example, is responsible for the educational programs of 16-19 year olds who are full-time in a club.
The third is Training, since they do courses to train and develop coaches, as well as to promote the creation of a national system for the development of technicians for clubs. And the fourth is the Elite Performance, which is the adherence to a platform (PMA) in which physical, technical, tactical and psychological data is shared to have absolute control of the player and to be able to compare the results with the other academies. “It is almost mandatory to do everything, at least when I was at Sunderland”, says Gustavo Poyet, coach of the Universidad Católica de Chile; “A lot of requests, a lot of money, a lot of information to share … I didn’t like it too much but I understand why they do it.”
The problem is that the academies are awarded a category from 1 to 4. And the higher the category, the more funds will be available and the EPPP will see the Premier and the FA invest more income in youth development programs. For this reason, on the other side of the coin, more modest clubs remained, which were no longer profitable to invest in training. Hereford United, Wycombe Wanderers and Yeovil Town closed their academies in 2012; Brentford did it in 2015; and Bolton and Birmingham, for example, downgraded their academy so as not to invest as much. But the English compete better than ever.
Germany, after falling into the first phase of Euro 2000, changed its plan with the creation of sports centers and technical schools, also to open the door to those boys who were in the country but still did not have dual citizenship, as happened. with Özil. France took a turn before, when at the end of the 80s it created 12 elite centers under the supervision of the federation, in which Clairefontaine stands out, who educates and teaches to play soccer, in boarding school, to boys from 12 years. The policy of advancing players to their category, for example, has roots in the Vichy school. And now it has been the English clubs that have adapted to their circumstances and the times to find a finalist team with an average age of 25.2 years, the second lowest after Turkey (24.9). It is not by chance.
Subscribe here to our special newsletter about Euro 2021