Upson, Davies, Black and Moore visit the Town
LUTON Town’s stars of tomorrow were treated to an evening of inspiration as the Hatters’ centre of excellence relaunched their training facility in Baldock on Tuesday, writes Mike Simmonds.
Former graduates Matthew Upson and Curtis Davies were in attendance, along with current players and legends Kingsley Black and John Moore.
Upson, who has since gone on to win 21 England caps, said: “I’ve just got great memories. Luton is a great club to start at because you had an opportunity. If you were a good player, you developed properly, you had an opportunity. You can’t ask for more than that as a young player.”
The U15s and U16s were treated to a question and answer session with Davies, Keith Keane, Ed Asafu-Adjaye and Jakes Howells, all who have come through the ranks at Luton.
The highlight though was an inspirational speech from Moore, who had the audience captivated, telling them they should aim to be better players.
Davies, now at Championship side Leicester City, was quick to praise his former mentor, saying: “John’s influence was massive on me, so anything that they did get out of the 10 minutes they should take with them.”
A recent poll had Luton fifth in a list of clubs who generate the most English professionals playing in the Premier League through their youth systems. The stat didn’t surprise former winger Black, who said: “You would be hard pushed to find such a good set-up. They get the boys when they are younger these days and all the coaching is in place.”
The evening was well worth it according to Keane too, who explained why he felt the Hatters’ youth record was so strong. He said: “There is a bit more coaching, more personal one-on-ones. The facilities are great and the chance is there for them to take full advantage of it.”
His view was backed up by Asafu-Adjaye, who said: “It’s a very good set-up and there’s so many coaches. It means they can work in smaller numbers and the kids can get the coaching they need to progress.”
While Howells, who recently represented England C, continued: “They’ve got a really good opportunity. The set-up is really good and everyone wants to learn.”
Finally, Adam Watkins, who is one of the new crop that has come through the youth set-up, added: “I’ve been here since U13s so I know what it’s all about. It’s good to come and see what they do because it’s the same when I was a young player.”
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