Brentford launch recruitment drive in bid to build world-class Academy

Stephen Torpey (right): Joined Brentford as Academy Director in January

Stephen Torpey (right): Joined Brentford as Academy Director in January

Brentford are embarking on a huge recruitment drive as they bid to build "the most caring and progressive football Academy in the world."

The Bees closed their Academy in 2016 and re-opened at Category Four level at the start of 2022/23. Now they are aiming to go to Category Two, with a view to being Category One in the near future.

The speed and ambition of Brentford’s rebuild is perhaps unprecedented in English Academy football. The club have made a considerable investment to upgrade their Jersey Road Academy, with seven new outdoor pitches and a building housing classrooms, changing rooms, offices, medical facilities and gym due to be opened this summer.

There is a process in place to recruit new players throughout the age groups and the club is also recruiting for a number of full-time and part-time staff, with many of the jobs currently on TGG. Overseeing it all is Academy Director Stephen Torpey, who joined from Manchester City, where he was Head of Coaching, in January.

“I don’t think anything like this has happened before - or will happen again," he told TGG. "This is why I joined. There aren’t too many clubs I would have left Manchester City for, but the ambition, the ethos, the catchment here are all phenomenal. When did we last have a Premier League club without an Academy?

“We have a blank canvas and an opportunity to do something different. We want people who are up to the challenge and who want to be part of a very special project."

Brentford are already beginning to do things differently, which has been their trademark. One example is merging the age groups at the top of the Foundation Phase and Youth Development Phase.

“Rather than having eight age groups across the schoolboy programme, we will have four and condense the staff,” Torpey explained. “We will have the same level of investment but hopefully an even higher calibre of person in charge of each of the groups.”

Brentford are currently recruiting for Head Coaches for these merged age groups - the U9s and 10s, 11s and 12s and 13s and 14s - as well as for an Assistant and Performance Analyst for each. Jamie Greenwood has recently joined from Reading to become Head of Academy Football Development (equivalent of the traditional Head of Coaching).

Andy Ottley will join shortly from Chelsea, where he is U14s Lead, to head up the 15s and 16s, with Harry Hudson, a Director of the Kinetic Coaching in Sport charity, coming in as the U15 & U16 assistant.

Des Ryan, formerly the Head of Academy Medicine and Athletic Performance at Arsenal and our guest on Episode #50 of the TGG Podcast, is already working for them as a performance consultant.

Mina Cup

Brentford will continue to run their B Team, which was launched when the Academy shut down in 2016 and is led by Head Coach Neil MacFarlane, as well as their U18s, who have been running since they went Category Four and are led by Lydia Bedford.

The B Team will join an U21s competition (the Professional Development League if the club achieves Category Two status), but continue to undertake a creative games programme.

“We won’t stop running our B Team games programme,” Torpey explains. “Say we arrange a game in Monaco, Strasbourg or Nice, or we enter a tournament, we can be strategic. We are fully committed to fulfilling the Premier League fixtures whilst also looking to add high-level fixtures that are exciting and high challenge."

Indeed, Torpey has been blown away by the calibre of players who are on the club’s doorstep.

“West London is a real hotbed of talent - there are talented layers everywhere,” he said.

Overseeing the matches will be a Games Programme Co-Ordinator, an innovative new role.

“The Co-Ordinator will make sure the games programme is fit for purpose across the age groups, including matches, tournaments and tours,” Torpey explained. “They will track the games programmes and analyse them.

“I’m not sure how many other clubs have this role, especially at the level we will be.”

Torpey was a Liverpool and England youth player at the FA National School. He spent six years as a coach with Liverpool’s Academy before joining Manchester City, initially as Foundation Phase Co-Ordinator and then Head of Coaching.

He has worked with some of the best young players in the country, including Trent Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones and Jarell Quansah at Liverpool, and Rico Lewis, Cole Palmer, Romeo Lavia and Oscar Bobb at City.

Stephen Torpey will be speaking at TGG Live 2024 in September. To find out more and to buy tickets, click the button below.


This year's PFA Player of the Year (Phil Foden) AND Young Player of the Year (Cole Palmer) were both City graduates and the club could now be regarded as the country’s premier producers of young talent.

Torpey was there to see the inexorable rise of the Academy at first hand. Why were they so successful?

“Players like Rico (Lewis), Phil (Foden) and Shea (Charles) were with us from eight-years-old, so it can’t just be about money,” he said. “There were a few main reasons for the success of the programme.

“First of all, there was an aligned coaching methodology across the Academy, with the same key principles of play, the same formation and an emphasis on technical levels ahead of tactical work.

“We developed individuals, which then helped the team. The coaching was methodical, planned and age appropriate. And there was a best-with-best philosophy across the Academy, in terms of both staff and players.

“This then becomes self-perpetuating and people are pushing both themselves and each other, without the need for anyone above to do that for them. This is the kind of programme we want to implement at Brentford, with our own ethos and identity.”

As ever, people will be key, which is why this recruitment drive is so important.

“We want people who are willing to push boundaries,” Torpey said. “This club has been built on the idea of people doing things differently, out-thinking others and doing things other clubs might not be prepared to do.

“This is going to be a very special and exciting project and we want people who are willing to push boundaries to be a part of it."

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