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Monday, 15 December 2008

Whatever Happened To: Middlesbrough 2004 FA Youth Cup Winners

The press speculation last week that Adam Johnson was on Real Madrid's radar pointed again to the phenomenal success of Middlesbrough's youth development programme. Boro won the FA youth Cup in 2004 and were runners up in 2003. A very high proportion of their players have made it to the their first team.

To illustrate the point, Boro lost to Manchester United in the 2003 Final but none of that side is currently at Old Trafford. For Middlesbrough , four of their 16 against Arsenal last weekend participated in the two Youth Cup runs- Ross Turnbull, Anthony McMahon, Adam Johnson and Matthew Bates.

In addition, thw two most prominent graduates were not available for that game-David Wheater, who Fabio Capello called up to an England squad and Andrew Taylor who appears for the under 21 side.

Six first team squad members is a tremendous conversion rate from a group of young players but the success is even better when James Morrison and Chris Brunt are added to the balance sheet. Both played for the first team at the Riverside before being sold to West Bromwich Albion where they are established Premiership players this season.

Andrew Davies moved to Southampton initially but is now at Stoke. The defender made 53 first team appearances at Boro and also got one cap at under-21 level for England.

Apart from these nine graduates to the Premiership there are players like Josh Walker who played with this group in the 2004 Final ,though he's about two years younger than most of them. He recently signed contract extension with Boro but is on loan to Aberdeen for experience.

As well as the players listed above, others have left Middlesbrough but are enjoying professional careers locally at Hartlepool and Darlington. It is an astounding record enhanced by the knowledge that this group supplements several other home grown stars from the cadre in front. These include England international Stuart Downing , along with Lee Cattermole and Stuart Parnaby who left the club but still played at Premiership level.

If any Premiership club can still claim to be community-based it is Middlesbrough. A high proportion of these succesful graduates are North-East born and though a lot of people have worked hard to achieve this, credit must go to Steve Gibson, probably the most admired Club Chairman in the game, for his vision and commitment to the local area.

COMMENTS

Paul

Good article, although I should point out that Josh Walker is not at loan this season and has been on the bench for the first team a few times this season.

steboro

Boro's academy has been a shining light for the club and has given the team a number of first team players as well as supplementing the squad through player sales.

There's an article on BoroMania that looks back on the 2004 youth cup squad, and where players are now.

http://boromania.com/a-look-back-on-the-2004-fa-youth-cup-winning-team/

Steve

I'm not a Boro fan but the work that the likes of Middlesbrough and Aston Villa have done to bring through ENGLISH youth should be more widely applauded.

daveyparkender

I agree that we have a great outlook where our youth policy is flourishing.Long may it continue.Financially it`s our only way forward these days.
Only downside is predatory big clubs hovering & unsettling them.
Best signing we made recently-bringing Mark Proc back into the club(only went cos of tosser-MacLaren)
C`mon BORO

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