Exeter City Academy: The graduates' verdict

Ollie Watkins and Ethan Ampadu

Ollie Watkins and Ethan Ampadu

FIVE graduates told me what made Exeter City's Academy such a good place to learn their trade. Here they are, in their own words:


ETHAN AMPADU:


Born in Exeter and joined their Academy at the age of seven. Made his first-team debut at 15 and was signed by Chelsea when he was 16.

“It was enjoyable throughout my whole time in the Academy. An area the coaches try and help the players with is to make it enjoyable - they always try and make it fun.

"Every coach works specifically with individuals on ways to improve their game and they look at the small details. If a player wants to say something to a coach or ask them a question, it’s an environment where you feel as though you can ask a question.

“The environment is not one where you go home after training and think, ‘I didn’t like that’, you always go home feeling ‘that was good, I improved as a player’.”


GEORGE FRIEND:


Born in Barnstable and signed pro forms with Exeter at 18. Signed by Wolves in 2008 and went on to become a key player at current club Middlesbrough.

“The training was always of a really high standard. Anywhere that I’ve been across the South West it was always the best coaching at Exeter City.

"Obviously Exeter has got that family club feel but it doesn’t neglect the professional side of it as well. When you look at the history of the players who have come through the Academy, it’s remarkable for the size of the club and its location.

“It’s a long time since I was at Exeter City, but every time I go out and train and play I still think of my time there.”


OLLIE WATKINS:


Grew up in Newton Abbot and joined Exeter's Academy at nine. In July 2017 the forward moved to Brentford.

“It’s a great set-up at Exeter City, one of the best around. I had good coaches that helped me and I feel as though they made my game better.

“It was good for me to come through the Academy because at Exeter you get given a chance as a young lad and then it’s all about taking it.”


MATT GRIMES:


Born in Exeter and progressed through the Academy before making his first-team debut aged 18. Secured a big-money move to Swansea and now on loan at Northampton.

“It speaks for itself in the fact that we’ve had so many Academy graduates, there’s multiple names you could throw out.

“I’ve always liked how it’s such a family based club, everyone knows everyone.”


JORDAN MOORE-TAYLOR:


Another who was born in the city. Made his first-team debut at 18 and is now club captain.

“I joined the Academy as a nine-year-old and it was really enjoyable.

“When you are coming through as a youngster you want to see a way through to first team football - that is what you get at Exeter City.”

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