Liam Brady believes that British teenagers have so many distractions at home these days that Arsenal had little choice but to expand their global scouting system to find youngsters with the necessary drive to become stars of the future.
Highlighting the manner in which social media and computer games continue to draw attention away from playing football, the Youth Academy head honcho stressed that times have changed hugely from his childhood spent kicking a ball in the streets of Dublin.
“Fewer players come in from the local pool of talent,” Brady told FourFourTwo magazine.
“We’re battling against all the modern things that are around for teenagers, and we can suffer because they are less hungry as a result.
“On the plus side, the money spent on academies is phenomenal and the help that these kids get, to mould them into good professionals, is far superior to what it used to be.
“…growing up in Dublin I played for a young boys’ club. We trained maybe once or twice a week and played on the weekend.
“When I wasn’t with the football club I would practise on my own because I didn’t have anything to keep me at home – we weren’t staying at home with a video game or on Facebook.
“That has been a negative for the pool of players that once existed in the British Isles and you can see why we have to broaden our scouting system to cope with that.”
Despite lamenting the necessity to have to shoe-horn football between Twitter sessions, the legendary Gunner did admit that those kids selected to join his Academy do have all the facilities needed to make it at the top.
“The facilities are brilliant compared to what I inherited. We’ve got our facility up in Shenley that can cater for the scholars when they leave school [at age 16 to 21].
“They get a real insight into exactly what’s needed to break into the first-team squad. The manager has contact with them and will sometimes take over their training sessions.
“In the past, the schoolboys haven’t really had their own training ground but we had Highbury across the road, which had an indoor training area.
“Now we’ve got our own training pitches in Walthamstow, an indoor training area and even an artificial surface. We’ve got beautiful pitches, good dressing rooms, and classrooms where players can do their homework. The change has been amazing.”
As much as Arseblog News would love to blame Facebook and Twitter for its own failure to make it as a top class footballer neither site (or the internet really) existed when we gave up the game at the heady age of 15. Instead we blame sloth, shitness and booze for years of playing with the handbrake on.
The January 2013 issue of FourFourTwo is running something of an Arsenal special featuring interviews with Arsene Wenger, Ivan Gazidis, Thomas Vermaelen, Santi Cazorla, Kieran Gibbs and also Ken Friar. It’s well worth a look.