Phil Foden’s emergence as a world-class talent is a testimony to the success of the City Football Academy…
After last month’s League Cup victory, while his overjoyed teammates were dancing in the dressing room, Phil Foden was seen sitting quietly content with a smile on his face, soaking in the celebratory atmosphere.
This has been the defining season of the 21-year old’s career so far. In the time between his man of the match display in the last League Cup final to a year later now, he has become an integral part of Pep Guardiola’s plans, transforming into one of Europe’s most promising young talents.
And he owes much of this success to the City Football Academy (CFA), a place he’s called home from when he was 7 years old.
The academy boasts of world class facilities and is one of the best of its kind. Some of the best young talents are absorbed into its system every year. The pinnacle of the academy pathway is the Elite Development Squad (EDS), comprising U-23 players, which represents the club at the reserve level.
The EDS squad’s first Premier League 2 title this season is further proof of the academy’s increasing dividends. Their margin of victory, 14 points over second-placed Chelsea U-23’s in a 24 game season, makes the achievement all the more remarkable. The U-18’s rounded off a spectacular season for the club as a whole by winning the U-18 Premier League National Final against Fulham.
Thus ensuring that they became the first side ever to sweep the PL treble of U-18 PL, PL 2 and Premier League in the same season.
Fans will be pleased to note that watching the seniors in the first team winning titles seems to have rubbed off and instilled a hunger for success in the youngsters.
Several players from the victorious EDS squad like Cole Palmer, Adrian Bernabe, and Liam Delap have debuted for the first team this season. Liam Delap in particular, a quintessential No 9, impressive in his performance against Bournemouth in the League Cup, is one to watch out for.
Academy director Jason Wilcox, talking to Goal’s Manchester City correspondent Jonathan Smith in May 2020, said that though their primary objective is to develop players for the first team, seeing them maximise their potential elsewhere is equally gratifying.
“Our aspiration is to develop first-team players for Manchester City but we’re just as proud of a graduate or academy player that maximises their potential, is a fantastic representation of our academy and is playing in League One or the National League or Europe,” the former England winger said.
Apart from top notch football education, overall development is prioritized and they are sent to some of the best schools in the Manchester area. Teenagers entering the system with high hopes can be rest assured that their future is secure, one way or another.
The CFA is fully primed to continue churning out youngsters with the potential to light up the biggest stages in world football. However for now, as far as the academy is concerned, the spotlight rests firmly on its crown jewel, Phil Foden. Boyhood City fan and academy graduate – the Golden Boy of Manchester is here to stay.