EXCLUSIVE: Crocker leaving FA to join Southampton

Crocker was Southampton's Academy Manager during a golden period 

Crocker was Southampton's Academy Manager during a golden period 

MATT CROCKER, one of the driving forces behind England’s recent successes at age group level, is leaving the Football Association after six years to become Director of Football Operations at Southampton.

The FA's Head of Coaching and Development replaces Ross Wilson, who left Southampton last month to become Director of Football at Rangers. The move marks a return to the South Coast club for Crocker, who was their Academy Manager during a golden seven years in which they produced the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Callum Chambers, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw.

Prior to this he was Academy Manager at Cardiff City - the club he himself had represented as a youngster - and during this time they also enjoyed great success, turning out Aaron Ramsey, Chris Gunter, Adam Matthews and Joe Ledley.

Crocker's departure represents a major blow for the FA. After joining in November 2013, he was key to implementing the England DNA across the age ranges and was a leading contender for the Technical Director job vacated by Dan Ashworth last year.

During his time at the FA, the age group teams enjoyed unprecedented success. In 2017, the Under-17s and U20s won the World Cup and the U19s won the European Championships.

That went to Les Reed, who had been sacked as Vice Chairman by Southampton, and who now has a number of exits to contend with.

Head of Team Strategy and Performance Dave Reddin is leaving in the middle of December, after six years, and Head of People and Team Development Pippa Grange stepped down in September.

Southampton CEO Martin Semmens said: “The Southampton Way is at the very core of everything we do here at the club, with a strong focus on our player pathway into the First Team.

"For our club to be successful going into the next decade, within an increasingly competitive Premier League, we must seek to strengthen our pathway and further develop every detail of our football operation.

“Matt was the outstanding candidate in Europe for this role, head and shoulders above anyone else, as he brings deep experience and knowledge to the club, but also a history with The Southampton Way.

“As Head of Development Teams at The FA, Matt was responsible for elite player and coach pathways through all teams, and was one of the key architects of the England DNA project.

"This created a framework and culture that has led to the success we see today through all age groups with the national team. This experience and knowledge will help our club develop further our excellent track record in player and coach development, and give us the best opportunity to be successful now and in the future.

“We are convinced this appointment will lead to greater success on the pitch in the future, and will help bring back the true ‘Southampton Way’ with a fresh and innovative leader in charge of our football operations.”

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