It’s not a secret that many footballers enter top clubs at the age of 14, but who then has done all the major work before and deserves much more attention? Which football schools in Europe are stronger than others in training and developing players? Who instilled a passion for football and made them grow further?
Beerschot AC official website photo.
In this article, I am going to consider the top 11 football academies in terms of training and player development, not selection. After all, these are the places where the experts in their field work, whose talent, knowledge, diligence and endurance made it possible to prepare players of the highest level.
While working on the article, I analyzed various European national teams from national to U19 youth teams, looked at hundreds of international players, where they started, where they moved, how many years they trained before getting into a famous club and where they ended up. I analyzed only those players who met the certain conditions:
- started training at the academy no later than at the age of 10,
- trained in the club for at least 5 years,
- the age of the footballer is no older than 30 years now.
This made it possible to identify those football clubs whose academies have trained and developed the largest number of pupils over the past 15 years. Therefore, the 20 years ago merits for Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi do not count.
Red Star Belgrade official facebook photo.
I estimated how much time the players spent in the academy of their club, at what age, when they received an invitation to their National Team, how many matches they played for the main team, which club they currently play in and, finally, how many such students the club has.
So here we go:
Red Star Belgrade
This is very famous Serbian football club and academy. Together with FK Partizan, they are constantly fighting for the championship and are rightfully considered two serious forges of football youth for clubs from all over Europe. Although in recent years, Red Star has taken the lead in terms of the number of players in various teams of its own and other European countries. Among the latest students are: Stefan Mitrovic, Aleksa Terzic, Strahinja Erakovic, Marko Grujic, Dejan Joveljic, Luka Jovic.
The most famous club in the world and its academy have clearly lost something in their preparation since the days when nine of their students played in the first team and in the Spanish national team.
The academy now can boast some very good, talented footballers such as Marc Bartra, Martin Montoya, Carles Planas, Gerard Deulofeu, Marc Navarro, Adama Traore, Ansu Fati, Eric Garcia and Miguel Carvalho, but unfortunately many recent graduates have arrived in Barcelona after schools of other clubs.
Athletic Club Boulogne Billancourt (ACBB)
A little-known French sports club from the suburbs of Paris, which, in addition to football, also has departments for teaching rugby, figure skating, cycling, swimming and other sports. Its merits are simply amazing: 67 of their athletes are European champions, 42 students are World champions and 28 won Olympic medalists. The football club plays in Regional 1, the sixth division of France.