Jennings: Quality of Academy players is better than ever

Jennings has been with Fulham since 2008

Jennings has been with Fulham since 2008

FULHAM Academy Director Huw Jennings says England’s young players are technically better than ever and have left Germany trailing.

Jennings is one of the most experienced and respected figures in English Academy football. He was in charge of Southampton's youth from 2001 to 2006, working with the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Adam Lallana.

Jennings then became Youth Development Manager at the Premier League for two years, before joining Fulham in 2008. During his time at the west London club he has brought through a host of players from Academy to first team, including Championship player of the season Ryan Sessegnon.

“Dare I say, England’s youth is improving and has gone past Germany’s,” Jennings told BBC 5 Live. “We have never seen the standard of technical performance that now exists.

“The quality of ball mastery, the quality of focus and commitment has never been higher. For all the criticism the industry has, never has there been a better level of young player coming into Academies and going through them.”

Jennings believes a return to the principles of street football have aided this development.

“The return of street football has been something that is long overdue,” he said. “We all lament the idea that you can’t go out and play freely on the streets.

“Well, the young people and their leaders have found a different way to do that. The advent of facilities such as cages has helped.

“There was a period when Academies started and moved out to the suburbs that we were all accused of being very middle class. We’ve moved that on.”

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