The Academy of Football

.cite web |url=|title=Sky Sports profile|] cite web |url=|title=London Net Club profile|] cite web |url=|title=Sky Sports profile|author=Tony Stevens|]

The title pays homage to the success of the club in coaching talented young playerscite web |url=$1088248.htm|title=In The News Club profile|] The title, originally attributed to the club by the press, has since been officially adopted by the club and is displayed in several prominent places around the stadium such as being printed underneath the club crest on the artificial surface surrounding the pitch at Upton Park.

The original tribute intended to reference the entire culture of the club, in much the same way as the Liverpool "Boot Room", and was not solely reserved for the education of young players but for also the development of a modern approach to football from the roots up, as inspired by the success of the Hungarian national team featuring the likes of Puskas that had humiliated England 6-3, and the great Real Madrid side of the late 1950's that dominated the European Cup.


The term was first used in the early years of Ron Greenwood's reign as West Ham manager (1961-1974). Greenwood had inherited a young team of players from Ted Fenton and the club was noted for its reliance on home grown talent with the likes of Bobby Moore, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, John Lyall, Ronnie Boyce, John Sissons, Alan Sealey and Harry Redknapp all in the first team or periphery. Further foundations had been laid with the likes of stalwart Ken Brown at the back, Malcolm Musgrove on the left wing (who was to leave in the second season), and the addition of John "Budgie" Byrne up front.

The true heritage of this side however owed its pedigree to the practices put in place by the previous manager.

Cafe Casseteri

Fenton was praised as a forward thinking manager. He pushed for the establishment of "The Academy" that brought through a series of young players to augment a side that could not be improved with the limited finances available. Two of the signings he did manage to make were those of John Dick and Malcolm Allison. Other players of the day included John Bond, Dave Sexton, Jimmy Andrews and Frank O'Farrell (later swapped for Eddie Lewis) and Tommy Moroney all part of an original 'Cafe Cassettari' club started by Fenton as a result of the restrictive budgetcite web |url=|title=Frank O'Farrell Talks exclusively to "Ex", Issue 7|author=Tony McDonald|] .

Cafe Cassettari sat opposite the Boleyn Ground, and Fenton organised a deal that saw meals and a warm welcome for the players of the club at a price the club could manage. It became a place for routine discussion of the team, and ideas and wisdom freely passed back and forth.cite web |url=|title=The Ingratitude of Real Madrid|author=Andy Newman|publisher=Socialist Unity Network] The tradition of mentorship and lasted long into the 60's even after Fenton had moved on and saw the likes of future managers John Lyall and Harry Redknapp pass through.cite web |url=,,12562,00.html |title=Club History|author=John Hellier|]

Fenton introduced continental ideas to the team, revamping training methods and taking inspiration from higher ranked teams, and even inspiring some. Fenton had been impressed greatly by the all conquering Hungarians of the 50's led by Ferenc Puskas and the Casseteri program and development of the academy were at the core. Ernie Gregory said (of the 50's diet) "We'd usually eaten fish or chicken and toast before then, but Dr. Thomas advised us all to eat steak and rice two hours before kick-off. All the other clubs copied us after that".cite web |url=|title=Ernie Gregory Talks exclusively to "Ex", Issue 5|author=Tony McDonald|] However not all the changes were strictly down to Fenton, Musgrove attributed much of the training regime to Allison, going so far as to state that once the players were at the club (signed by Fenton) they were pretty much Allisons property.cite web |url=|title=Malcolm Musgrove Talks exclusively to "Ex", Issue 8|author=Tony McDonald|] As well as being a student of the game himself, Fenton encouraged all players to take coaching badges and it's notable that many of his former players went on to coaching and managing roles after they retired.cite web |url=,,1757158,00.html|title=John Lyall - Obituary|author=Julie Welch|publisher=Guardian Newspaper] The Academy also involved, beyond the routine training and development of the youth and squad, actual tactical discussions between the players.

History - continued

At this time, three players who had come through the West Ham youth development system were seeing some success in the England squad; they were Bobby Moore who debuted in 1962, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters.

In 1966, these players played a part in England’s victory in the World Cup.

Moore was the most well-known of the three. He captained the England squad and was later named by Pelé as the "greatest" of all the defenders he had played against.

In the World Cup final against West Germany in which England won 4-2, Hurst scored the only hat-trick ever scored at a World Cup final match, and Peters scored the other goal. This gave rise to the West Ham supporters' partly tongue-in-cheek terrace chant:

"I remember Wembley,"
"When we beat West Germany."
"Peters one and Geoffrey three,"
"Bobby Moore and his OBE!"

A bronze statue of these three players (and Everton defender Ray Wilson ) holding the Jules Rimet Trophy aloft was erected in 2003 at the junction of Barking Road and Green Street close to Upton Park.

During the next thirty years West Ham's youth academy produced many professional players. Notable Academy "graduates" during this time include Frank Lampard Sr. and (later Sir) Trevor Brooking, who both featured in the club's 1975 FA Cup win with a team composed solely of English players; no club since has repeated this accomplishment.

Paul Ince played his first game for West Ham in 1986, and went on to win more trophies than any other Academy "graduate", albeit with Manchester United.

In 1996, the reputation of the Academy began a fresh revival with the arrival of Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard Jnr. That year, the West Ham youth team reached the FA Youth Cup Final, losing to a Liverpool side inspired by Michael Owen. However, both Ferdinand and Lampard would see success in subsequent years.

In 1999, the West Ham youth team won the FA Youth Cup, beating Coventry City 9-0 on aggregate. The team featured Joe Cole and Michael Carrick.

Recent Academy "graduates" include Glen Johnson, Anton Ferdinand (younger brother of Rio), Elliott Ward and Mark Noble.

Since 1973 the Academy has been managed by Tony Carr, himself a "graduate" but whose career was cut short by injury.

Relationship with West Ham United

The Academy is an important part of the club's identity and a regular source of players for the first team. When the club was relegated from the FA Premier League in 2003 the sale of young Academy stars arguably saved the club from financial disaster. It has been argued that if West Ham had kept all of their Academy "graduates" since Rio Ferdinand, they would currently be among the very top English teams.

With their promotion via the Championship Play-Offs in 2005 West Ham have returned to England’s top league. Three Academy "graduates" had been key players in this achievement; Anton Ferdinand, Elliott Ward, and Mark Noble. In the 2007-08 season several new prospects graduated from the academy to make their West Ham United debuts. Jack Collison made brief appearances, James Tomkins started several games at centre back, but by far the biggest impact was made by Freddy Sears, who scored just minutes into his debut to get the winner against Blackburn Rovers, and has impressed the fans with his pace and skill. Notable players for the future include Jordan Spence, who has captained England youth at several levels.

West Ham as a "Feeder Club"

A case may be made that West Ham has been a feeder team in recent years, that is, a club that provides quality players to other clubs for profit. Though not a club, the England national team includes various academy apprentices or graduates, including Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Jermain Defoe.

This reputation probably began with the sale of Rio Ferdinand to Leeds in 2000. Since then, West Ham have sold six Academy "graduates" for transfer fees totalling over £50 million (including £18 million for Ferdinand, who was later sold on to Manchester United for £30 million). This amount is much greater than the club's own spending on players (most of which was financed by the above income), and many of the players are currently finding success with financially stronger clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester United who are two of four (Arsenal, Liverpool) Premiership clubs capable of flexing financial muscle, competing on a different level to most other teams.


"The crowds at West Ham have never been rewarded by results but they keep turning up because of the good football they see. Other clubs will suffer from the old bugbear that results count more than anything. This has been the ruination of English soccer." -- Ron Greenwood, West Ham manager 1961-1974.

"No way is it all down to me. It's very difficult to say why we've been so successful in youth terms; I suppose it's down to a number of factors but, most importantly, our recruitment area of east London and Essex is really fertile." -- Tony Carr, Director of Youth Development at West Ham 1973-present, quoted in an interview published by the "Daily Telegraph" 14 June 2004.

"Why should we sell Rio Ferdinand? Are we a Premier League club or are we just a feeder club for bigger clubs? If we start selling players like Rio, where is the club going to go?" -- Harry Redknapp, West Ham manager 1994-2001.

"The biggest single contributor to the current England national squad is not Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea, but the West Ham Youth Academy." -- "ITV Football" article, 13 September 2004.

"This next batch of kids won’t go the same way as the last generation - provided we consolidate in the Premiership. We’ve another batch coming through - and it’s important we bring on young players." Terry Brown, West Ham United Chairman, quoted in an interview published by "The Sun", June 2005.


Capped Players

*Bobby Moore captained West Ham to victories in the 1964 FA Cup and the 1965 European Cup Winners Cup, then captained England to victory in the 1966 World Cup and to the quarter finals in the 1970 World Cup. He was a key player in both the England and West Ham squads until the early 1970s. The southern stand at Upton Park is named the Bobby Moore stand. Moore was named by Pelé as the "greatest" of all the defenders he had played against.:Career: 1958-73:Caps: 108

*Sir Geoff Hurst remains the only player to have scored a hat-trick in a World Cup final, helping England to victory in this competition in 1966. He was decorated with the MBE in 1977 and knighted in 1998. He played 499 times for West Ham and scored 252 goals for his club.:Career: 1960-72:Caps: 49

*Martin Peters scored in the 1966 World Cup final and was a regular player for West Ham throughout the 1960s. In 1970 his transfer to Tottenham set a new record at the time of £200,000. With this club he won the League Cup twice and the UEFA Cup once. He played 882 games in his career, scoring 220 goals - a remarkable achievement for a midfielder.:Career: 1962-70:Caps: 67 (includes 34 caps while with Tottenham Hotspur)

*Frank Lampard Sr. won the FA Cup twice with West Ham, in 1975 and 1980, and played 660 times for the club.:Career: 1967-85:Caps: 2

*Sir Trevor Brooking made 636 appearances for West Ham between 1967 and 1984. He won the FA Cup with the club in 1975 and 1980, scoring the only goal in the 1980 final against Arsenal. In December 2003, Brooking joined the Football Association as Director of Football Development. He was knighted for his services to sport in 2004.:Career: 1967-84:Caps: 47

*Alan Devonshire made 358 appearances for West Ham in his career, winning the FA Cup with the club in 1980.:Career: 1976-90:Caps: 8

*Alvin Martin played 586 times for West Ham and was granted two testimonials by the club - a very rare honour. He won the FA Cup with the club in 1980.:Career: 1978-96:Caps: 17

*Tony Cottee scored 118 goals in 256 appearances for West Ham, was named PFA Young Player of the Year in 1986 and was transferred to Everton two years later for a then-record £2.2 million. Later, he won the League Cup with Leicester City. In his entire club career he played for eight clubs (including West Ham in two separate spells), playing 736 games and scoring 307 goals.:Career: 1983-88, 1994-96:Caps: 7 (includes 4 caps while with Everton}

*Paul Ince played 72 matches with West Ham before an acrimonious transfer to Manchester United in 1989 for £1 million. Here he became known as "The Guvnor" due to his powerful and dominating presence in midfield. He found great success with the club, winning the Premier League twice, the FA Cup twice, the Charity Shield three times, and the Cup Winners' Cup, the League Cup, and the European Super Cup once each. He was a very important player for Manchester United, and made 278 appearances, scoring 28 goals in total, for this club. During this time he became captain of the England squad. After leaving Manchester United he went on to a successful career with Internazionale, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, and Wolverhampton Wanderers.:Career: 1986-:Caps: 53 (all caps while with Manchester United, Internazionale, Liverpool, and Middlesbrough)

*Rio Ferdinand signed as a 14 year-old by West Ham, completing a 2-year YTS contract before signing, professionally, aged 17 in 1996 [ [ RIO FERDINAND] ] He gained his first international cap in 1998, and in 2000 became the most expensive defender in England following his £18 million transfer to Leeds. He became captain of the club in 2001 and in 2002 was transferred to Manchester United for £30 million. This transfer made him the most expensive British footballer in history, and the most expensive defender in the world. He currently is first choice central defender for Manchester United and England, and has been linked with the armband for both club and country.:Career: 1996-:Caps: 52 (includes 23 caps while with Leeds and Manchester United)

*Frank Lampard Jr. gained his full England debut in 1999, and was transferred to Chelsea in acrimonious circumstances in 2001, for a fee of £11.5 million. He was voted Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year for 2004/2005, and is currently first choice central midfielder for Chelsea and England.:Career: 1995-:Caps: 19 (includes 17 while with Chelsea)

*Joe Cole was widely hailed as having potential to be among England's greatest footballing talents while with West Ham, but did not see the success with club or country that many expected. He was transferred to Chelsea for approximately £7 million in 2003. Despite almost being loaned to Spartak Moscow, he fought for a place at his new club and has since become a regular player for Chelsea and England.:Career: 1998-:Caps: 22 (includes 12 caps while with Chelsea)

*Michael Carrick signed as a youth team player by West Ham in 1998 before making his senior debut in 1999. [ [ Michael Carrick] ] He had 5 seasons with West Ham before being transferred to Tottenham and became a regular player in that side also, before a big-money move to Manchester United in July 2006.:Career: 1998-:Caps: 7 (includes 5 caps while with Tottenham)

*Jermain Defoe started his career with Charlton Athletic. He did not make any appearances for Charlton and was signed as a youth team player by West Ham in July 1999 at age 16. [ [ Jermain Defoe] ] Here he was considered an excellent young talent and a natural goalscorer. In 2003, he was transferred to Tottenham for £7 million. He is a regular for his club and in the England squad.:Career: 2000-:Caps: 12 (all while with Tottenham)

*Glen Johnson was sold to Chelsea for £6 million after only 17 West Ham first team appearances. He was first called up for the England squad in November 2003. Despite not establishing himself as a first-choice team member just yet, he is rated very highly and is seen as a good technical player, as well as a good defender.:Career: 2002-:Caps: 1 (capped while with Chelsea)

Recent "Graduates"

*Chris Cohen has played several times for the first team (including a debut at age 16) but has so far failed to find a regular place. He is a physically strong player despite his youth, and is very versatile, preferring central midfield but also able to play at left midfield, left fullback, or central defence. At the end of the 2005/2006 season, he won 4 Player of the Year Awards for Yeovil Town, where he played on loan. Cohen joined the Somerset club on a permanent basis on June 28 2006.:Career: 2003-:Caps: 0

*Anton Ferdinand is the brother of Rio Ferdinand and is a quick and reliable young defender who is calm on the ball. Many consider his partnership with Elliot Ward (see below) to have played an important part in West Ham's promotion in 2005.:Career: 2004-:Caps: 0

*Elliott Ward is a recent graduate. His central defence partnership with Anton Ferdinand (see above) has shown that both players have a great deal of potential. Ward failed to break into the team on regular basis in the 2005-2006 season and enjoyed a productive loan spell to Plymouth Argyle leading to Tony Pulis attempting to make his short term stay permanent. Ward was transferred to Coventry City for the fee of £1 Million at the end of the 2005-2006 season.:Career: 2004-:Caps: 0

*Mark Noble is another recent graduate. In the latter parts of the 2004/2005 season, his play in midfield brought fresh vigour to the West Ham side. He is considered possibly the most promising of the club's young players.:Career: 2004-:Caps: 0

*Freddie Sears is a graduate who made his first appearance for the 1st team on 15 March 2008. A striker, he was only on the pitch for a little over 5 minutes before he scored his first goal in a 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers.:Career: 2008-:Caps: 0

*James Tomkins is a graduate who made his first appearance for the 1st team on 22 March 2008. A defender, he made his debut in a 1-1 draw, away, against Everton.:Career: 2008-:Caps: 0

*Jack Collison made his first league appearance at the Emirates Stadium, on 1 January 2008, for the injured Fredrik Ljungberg. He made his first start in the away game against Bolton, on 12 April 2008, but was substituted at the beginning of the second half.:Career: 2008-:Caps: 0

Other Players

These players trained at the Academy but did not play in the West Ham first team, and some have also trained at other clubs in their youth.

*Sol Campbell made his debut at Tottenham in 1992, and became a regular England player in the late 1990s. In 2001, when his contract ran out, he joined Arsenal. Campbell is a regular player for club and country, and has won the Premier League twice and the FA Cup three times while with Arsenal. He was named in the official Euro 2004 All-Star squad by the UEFA technical group.:Career: 1992-:Caps: 65

*John Terry was schooled by both West Ham's and Chelsea's youth teams at different times. His debut for Chelsea was in 1998 and became captain of the side in the 2003/2004 season. The following season he helped Chelsea set a new record, the side having conceded only 14 goals in the entire league season. He was also voted PFA Players' Player of the Year in 2005.:Career: 1998-:Caps: 17

*Harry Redknapp

*John Lyall

*Alan Curbishley

*Kieran Richardson

*Freddy Eastwood

*Jlloyd Samuel

*Fitz Hall

*Billy Mehmet

*Jimmy Bullard


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