Herron leaving Reading after 17 years to join Arsenal

Herron won the Premier League's inaugural Eamonn Dolan Award last year

Herron won the Premier League's inaugural Eamonn Dolan Award last year

LEE HERRON is leaving Reading after 17 years to become Football Operations Manager at Arsenal’s Academy.

Defender Per Mertesacker will take charge of the Academy when he retires from playing at the end of the season and the Gunners regard the experienced and highly-rated Herron as an ideal foil for the German.

The 41-year-old joined Reading in January 2001, initially working part-time in their Football in the Community department, before rising through the ranks to become Academy Manager in September 2016.

When he was appointed Academy boss, Reading chief executive Nigel Howe said: “Lee’s total devotion to our Category 1 Academy over a long period of time has not once wavered and he has played a pivotal role in making our youth system the admiration of so many others.”

It is difficult to overstate the impact that Herron, how was born and bred in Reading, has had at the club. During his time with the Royals, he has helped 46 players progress from Academy to first team, including internationals Gylfi Sigurdsson, Shane Long and Hal Robson-Kanu.

In May 2013, goalkeeper Alex McCarthy became the first Reading Academy graduate to be named in an England squad.

Herron also project-managed the submission that enabled Reading to achieve Category 1 Academy status in 2013 and prepared for the audit that saw them retain it in 2016.

Last May, he won the Premier League’s inaugural Eamonn Dolan Award for “making an exceptional contribution to coaching”.

It was a poignant moment, because Dolan, who died from cancer in 2016 at the age of 48, had been Herron’s predecessor as Academy Manager as well as his mentor. The Irishman had played a huge role in the development of Reading's Academy.

Herron leaves on a high, with the club having supplied two of England’s World Cup winners last summer. Danny Loader represented the triumphant Under-17s, while Luke Southwood played for the Under-20s.

Reading and Arsenal are negotiating a date for Herron to start his new job and the Royals will now advertise for his replacement as Academy Manager.

Herron’s appointment is the latest in a long line for the Gunners, who have completely overhauled their backroom set-up since the summer.

Luke Hobbs has been interim boss of the Academy since Andries Jonker left for Wolfsburg in March and will continue to play a prominent role once Herron and Mertesacker arrive.

Arsenal appointments since June 2017:

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