Jack Wilshere and Alex Iwobi name him a “father determine” and lots of extra Premier League stars have benefited from the work first put in place by Roy Massey 25 years in the past.
Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith-Rowe and Joe Willock are among the many others to have appreciated Massey’s steerage since he started serving to Arsenal legend Liam Brady mould the Gunners’ academy in 1998.
“I regarded the academy as my household,” stated Wilshere. “Roy was the one who drove issues ahead and he had a robust work ethic.”
Iwobi, who joined when he was in major college and performed 100 Premier League video games earlier than becoming a member of Everton in 2019, says Massey was “revered, cherished and adored” and at all times a “excellent gentleman”.
“He has an infectious giggle and made everybody really feel welcome,” added Iwobi. “He gave all of us equal alternatives to get on to the pitch throughout matches. He gave us perception and freedom to take pleasure in our soccer and to precise ourselves.”
After greater than 25 years teaching at Colchester and Norwich, the place Massey’s younger stars had been handsomely beating the Irishman’s prospects, he accepted Brady’s supply to affix Arsenal.
Massey was tasked with unearthing junior school-aged youngsters ok to symbolize the London membership, whereas discovering and creating new services.
Massey constructed a community of scouts and recruited top-class coaches, utilizing strategies honed by Ajax – who received the Champions League three years earlier with a group constructed round academy graduates – to develop children and create a welcoming, household ambiance whereas holding them grounded.
Arsenal look set to shatter their switch document with the signing of Declan Rice, however the membership’s productive Hale Finish academy stays invaluable.
And Massey, who retired in 2014, particulars how a few of immediately’s Premier League stars benefited from the Gunners’ system.
Bukayo Saka – ‘maturity past his years’
“Bukayo got here to the academy aged eight due to Miguel Rios, a younger man who I requested to do some scouting for us in west London,” says Massey.
“He introduced in a number of children however clearly the standout was Bukayo, who was 13 by the point I retired and has proved to be one of the gifted gamers produced by the Arsenal academy.
“Bukayo had an excellent left foot and was performed primarily as a left full-back, from the place he might learn to defend and assault the sport, or as left winger in eight-a-side video games on small pitches.
“He had two good ft however the teaching employees thought he was stronger on his left. He confirmed composure on the ball. He had energy and tempo however the slight concern was that as he bought older his success wouldn’t be maintained as soon as the opposite gamers might compete bodily with him.
“Nevertheless, Bukayo had a maturity past his early years and confirmed nice soccer intelligence, potential on the ball and an actual need to turn out to be knowledgeable. Like most younger boys his dad was very supportive of his efforts.”
Joe Willock – ‘he cried his eyes out’
“The youngest of the three Willock brothers was Joe,” explains Massey. “After I met him, he was solely 5. His mum Sarah and pop Charles introduced him to look at Chris [who now plays for QPR] within the sports activities corridor.
“All through the session Joe cried his eyes out and pleaded to play. There was no pacifying him till I invited him on to the taking part in space in order that he might kick a ball about.
“Abruptly he stopped crying and a smile got here to his face. When Joe was seven, he was taking part in for the pre-academy group towards Watford.
“On this recreation, Joe ran by way of the defence and with the aim at his mercy he hit the ball extensive of the publish. Coach Rodney Clements took off his glasses and stated, ‘Joe, would you like these?’ – Joe laughed and bought on together with his recreation earlier than occurring to attain a hat-trick.
“Like his brother Chris, Joe additionally confirmed little curiosity within the training programme however he was very enthusiastic when coaching and taking part in. He in all probability confirmed much less potential than his older brothers however it didn’t stop him making his Premier League debut in midfield towards Newcastle United in April 2018.
“At 18 he grew to become the fourth participant born after Arsene Wenger took cost to play for the membership. Joe additionally grew to become the 56th teenager to symbolize Arsenal through the Premier League period – greater than some other membership. Jack Wilshere was the youngest at 16 years and eight months.”
Eddie Nketiah – ‘he’s dangerous!’
“Eddie began his academy soccer with Chelsea as a younger boy then got here to the eye of the Arsenal academy when he performed towards them and had an excellent recreation,” says Massey.
“Though very small for his age, he had velocity and good technical potential
“After the under-14s recreation, Bobby Arber, a full-time Arsenal scout, handed Chris and Joe Willock. He stopped to talk to them concerning the recreation and talked about the little centre-forward.
“‘He’s dangerous,’ they stated. Bobby initially thought they had been referring to his character, then shortly realised that “dangerous” meant good! The kids informed him Chelsea had been releasing Eddie.
“This was music to Bobby’s ears. He contacted Ian Gilmour, who advisable children from the south London space. Ian spoke to Eddie and his dad and mom and so they agreed to him having trials with Arsenal. It didn’t take lengthy for Eddie to be supplied the chance to affix the Gunners.”
Reiss Nelson – noticed on the park
“Reiss was introduced in for coaching on the age of eight by scout Alan Knowles,” says Massey. “He had already been noticed by Tottenham Hotspur, with whom he was coaching.
“Alan had been driving house after watching a district schoolboy recreation and as he handed a park he seen a gaggle of younger footballers having fun with a recreation between themselves.
“Alan stopped to have a look and after some time he noticed just a little boy obtain the ball earlier than dribbling previous three opponents. Because the keeper got here out to cease his shot the younger participant feinted to shoot and, because the keeper dived to anticipate the shot, the boy dribbled spherical him earlier than calmly slotting the ball into the aim.
“Alan was impressed and requested the eight-year-old to come back and prepare on the Arsenal academy, the place he subsequently stayed for a few years earlier than signing professionally for the Gunners.”