This week sees the fantastic work of academies across the country celebrated as part of the #RaisedInTheEFL campaign.
We sat down with Charlton Athletic Academy Manager Steve Avory to look at the development of some of the stars to come through at the club’s Sparrows Lane training ground.
Did you always know he was this good?
"No but I would never really back myself or felt it was the right thing to do in terms of saying a player at 13 or 14 years of age would play in the Premier League. It’s quite a journey and I do recognise that and experience has taught me otherwise as well. The thing about Joe Gomez is that he was such a determined young man and very persistent with it as well.
"He wasn’t necessarily succeeding in some of the technical areas of the game such as his heading wasn’t that great but he was prepared to work at it, coming in full time to work at it even more so.
"He’s been able to take things in his stride with the mature head he’s had on his young shoulders throughout the journey. It was a surprise when he made his first team debut at Liverpool as soon as he did, particularly as it was at left back but again it was proof of him being able to handle himself, the occasion, the progression."
You’ve spoken before about your relationship with Joe’s parents. How important can a good relationship with an academy player's parents be?
"I think it’s so important to a young player’s development and some don’t quite get that parental support through the circumstances. His parents right throughout his journey, mum and dad, were always supporting him in terms of the sacrifices they needed to make to commit to the training to commit to the playing throughout the years here. What I’ve always felt with them, and a number of players we’re talking about (as part of #RaisedInTheEFL), is that they’ve had that solid family unit behind them and have always bought into the values and expectations that we have here; such as the work ethic, structure, discipline, the humility. Gomez is outstanding example in that respect. He just doesn’t get carried away with the success."
He was back here a few weeks ago for the game against Sunderland, was it good to see him at The Valley?
"It was great to catch up with him and give him a big hug. We don’t see enough of him and as he tells me he doesn’t get let out a lot these days. It’s hard working up there but Joe won’t mind that because its instilled in him. It was really good to catch up with him at the Sunderland game."
Article by Nick Emms