Johnson appointed Watford Academy Director

Johnson and Gilligan both came through the ranks at Watford as players

Johnson and Gilligan both came through the ranks at Watford as players

FORMER Watford midfielder Richard Johnson has been appointed as the club’s new Academy Director, with Jimmy Gilligan taking up the role of Head of Technical Development.

Australian Johnson, 47, played 242 games for the Hornets between 1991 and 2003. He returned to the club in May 2018 as Business Development Manager, before becoming Academy Head of Partnerships in February this year.

Prior to that he was Technical Director at Wealdstone for seven months and Recruitment Manager for Dream Search Ltd, a recruitment firm for mortgage, financial and insurance industry professionals, for four-and-a-half years.

He replaces Richard Thomas, who left Watford at the start of this month after two years as Academy Manager.

“I feel very honoured to serve our club as Academy Director having first joined when I was only 16 years old,” Johnson said. “I came through the youth system and went on to play for nearly 12 years, so I know what it feels like to make that journey.”

Meanwhile, Gilligan joins from the Football Association, where he was a national coach developer for the last five years. The Uefa Pro Licence holder was an apprentice for the Hornets before going on to make 27 appearances for them between 1981 and 1985.

After that he was a youth coach for the club and then first-team and Under-23s coach at Nottingham Forest.

He said: “I'm delighted to be coming back to a wonderful football club and one that is so dear to my heart. The values of Watford Football Club under Graham Taylor have helped me develop as a coach and as a person, so I'm very excited about helping shape the future of the players at this football club.

“Our Academy has had an incredible reputation of producing and nurturing talent. To have the opportunity of playing a part in the development of the next generation of Watford players is truly humbling.”

Hornets Chairman and CEO Scott Duxbury added: “Combining Richard's vision and Jimmy's experience is going to provide a very powerful message to aspiring young footballers in our local area.

“I look forward to watching the development of the Academy under two people who really understand what this club means to its supporters and, just as importantly, the young players in our care.”

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