Aston Villa Under-21s and Academy

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Aston Villa Under-21s
A badge with a claret border, light blue background and yellow lion rampant facing to the left with a small star slightly above an outstretched leg. AVFC is atop the lion in claret writing with "Prepared" written underneath.
Full name Aston Villa Football Club Under-21s & Academy
Nickname(s) The Villans
Founded 1874
Ground Home Stadium:
Villa Park
Aston
Birmingham B6 6HE
England

Home Stadium (Winter):
De Montfort Park
Hinckley
Leicestershire LE10 3DR
England
Ground Capacity
Villa Park: 42,585
Greene King Stadium: 4,329
Chairman United States Randy Lerner
Head Coach

England Gordon Cowans &

Scotland Tony McAndrew
League Professional Development League 1
2013-14 15th (relegated to Premier League Division 2)

The Aston Villa Under-21s, formerly Aston Villa Reserves, are the most senior youth development team of Aston Villa and will compete in Division 2 of the U21 Professional Development League in the 2014–15 season. The team were part of the FA Premier Reserve League since its foundation in 1999 and were winners of the 2011-12 Premier Reserve League South title, the last in its previous format. The team plays its home games at Villa Park - during Autumn and Spring - and the Greene King Stadium (home of Hinckley United) - during the winter months. Aston Villa also have an academy team that competes in the Under-18 division of the Professional Development League.

In accordance with Villa's impressive youth development, the team has been successful in recent years. As well as becoming national champions in the 2003–04 and 2009–10 seasons, the team also clinched four out of five Southern Championships between 2007 and 2012, before the format changed to the Professional Development League 1.

Current first-teamers Ciaran Clark, Chris Herd, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Nathan Baker, Gary Gardner, Samir Carruthers, Callum Robinson, Jack Grealish and Andreas Weimann all came through the youth system at the club, as well as former players Gary Cahill, Gareth Barry, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Darius Vassell, Craig Gardner, Marc Albrighton and Steven Davis amongst many others. The Villa academy was also the first team of England and Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge. The under-21 team is currently coached by Gordon Cowans whilst Tony McAndrew and Ben Petty coach the Academy team. The U21 team is primarily made up of players under the age of 21, although three over-age outfield players may be named in a matchday squad. These may usually include fringe first-team players and first-team players recovering from injury.

History[edit]

Signs of the team date back to 1892, when Aston Villa Reserves joined the Birmingham & District League. After finishing in the runners-up position twice in the first 2 seasons of the competition, Villa finally won their first trophy in the 1894–95 season, amazingly winning 26 out of 30 league games and losing just once all season. Several titles followed after this achievement, including an extraordinary run of 8 consecutive titles between 1902 and 1910. When Villa finally left the Birmingham & District League in 1915, they had accumulated a total of 12 league titles and 6 runners-up finishes.

After that, the reserve team played in the Central League for many years, becoming champions in 1929–30, 1963–64 and 1992–93.

In 1999–2000, the FA Premier Reserve League was set up, Villa were one of the founding members, and were split into the Northern section of the league. Three disappointing seasons followed, however in the 2003–04 season, inspired by brothers Stefan Moore and Luke Moore, Villa eased to their first title. In the two seasons which followed (2004–05 and 2005–06), Villa agonisingly finished both campaigns as runners-up, both times to Manchester United. In the 2006–07 season, for the first time since its introduction, the FA Premier Reserve League excluded Coca-Cola Championship teams from playing in the league, with the 20 senior English Premiership teams parallelling the teams involved in the FA Premier League. This also meant that due to geographical circumstances, Aston Villa Reserves were switched from the Northern Division, to the Southern equivalent, for the first time since the start of the original format in 1999. Villa eventually finished 4th - winning 9 out of their 18 games, with Luke Moore the top goalscorer, with 7. The season saw the impressive development of several youngsters, most notably including Zoltán Stieber, Shane Lowry and Stephen O'Halloran, all of which were rewarded with first-team opportunities in the pre-season fixtures, prior to the 2007–08 season.

Inspired by Swedish striker Tobias Mikaelsson, Aston Villa Reserves clinched the 2007–08 Southern title, their second regional success since the inception of the league in 1999. However, they were beaten 3-0 in the Play-Off Final by Northern champions Liverpool.

In the 2008–09 season, the team went one better by securing their second consecutive Southern title, and then defeating Sunderland to claim their first ever national title, with goals from Nathan Delfouneso, James Collins and Shane Lowry.

Andreas Weimann netted nine goals, to help Villa keep up their trend of securing the Southern title - their third on the trot - in the 2009–10 season. This included a remarkable 15-game unbeaten streak, running from the opening game of the campaign, all the way through to the last game of the season against Portsmouth. However, the club were denied a second consecutive national title, as they were beaten on penalties by Manchester United, after a 3-3 draw at Old Trafford.

The 2010–11 season saw changes to the standard format of the league. Only 16 clubs competed, which meant a split between the top heavy Northern league. Undoubtedly the highlight of the season, was a 10-1 home victory over Arsenal at the Greene King Stadium, en route to finishing third in the league.

Following changes arrived in the 2011–12 season. Three leagues were abolished, returning to two, whilst each team played the teams in their own league home and away. They also played each team in the regional league once, with home and away games split evenly. More success followed however, as Villa picked up another Southern title, with Andreas Weimann scoring nine times during the course of the season. It was a case of deja vu however, as they were again beaten on penalties by Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The Premier Reserve League was abolished during the summer of 2012, to make way for the Professional Development League 1. Aston Villa will be one of 22 clubs to take part in the inaugural season, participating in Group 2 of the competition.

During the 13-year tenure of the original Reserve system, Aston Villa were the second most successful club - behind Manchester United - with five regional titles and one national title. The U21 team currently play their home matches at Villa Park, although during the winter months, matches are held at Greene King Stadium, home ground of Hinckley United. The Academy team play their home matches at Bodymoor Heath.

Hong Kong Soccer Sevens[edit]

The yearly invitational seven-a-side Hong Kong Soccer Sevens tournament brings together leading youth sides from around the world, and has brought notable success to Aston Villa's in the past - with a squad of reserve and youth players fielded annually for the event for over a decade. Villa have won the tournament five times, more than any other team.

Villa won the third HK Soccer Sevens tournament in 2002, defeating Arsenal in the final, they went on to defend their title in 2004 (as the 2003 competition was cancelled due to the SARS outbreak), inspired by Stephen Cooke and Steven Foley they clinched the trophy in the final against Manchester United. Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor captained Villa to the semi-final in 2006 - losing to the eventual winners Urawa Red Diamonds - and also received the 'Player Of The Tournament' accolade. Villa won the competition again in May 2010, beating Central Coast Mariners of Australia in the final.[1]

U21 squad[edit]

Players listed in bold are also part of the first team squad, as listed on the club's official website, this team is supplemented by both the first team and the academy squad.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
Switzerland GK Benjamin Siegrist
England GK Bradley Watkins
England GK Craig Hill
32 Saint Lucia DF Janoi Donacien
England DF Liam Bateman
England DF Joshua Webb
England DF Bradley Lewis
England DF Lewis Kinsella
England DF Isaac Nehemie
No. Position Player
England DF Tom Leggett
36 England MF Daniel Johnson
25 Republic of Ireland MF Samir Carruthers
England MF Jordan Graham
37 England FW Callum Robinson
Republic of Ireland FW Michael Drennan
Republic of Ireland FW Graham Burke
England FW Alfie Crooks

Reserve & U21 Honours[edit]

Birmingham & District League

  • Winners:
    • 1894/95, 1895/96, 1899/00, 1902/03, 1903/04, 1904/05, 1905/06, 1906/07, 1907/08, 1908/09, 1909/10, 1911/12.
  • Runners-Up:
    • 1892/93, 1893/94, 1897/98, 1898/99, 1900/01, 1910/11.

Birmingham Senior Cup

  • Winners:
    • 1879/80, 1881/82, 1882/83, 1883/84, 1884/85, 1887/88, 1888/89, 1889/90, 1890/91, 1895/96, 1898/99, 1902/03, 1903/04, 1905/06, 1907/08, 1908/09, 1909/10, 1911/12, 1984/85.
  • Runners-Up:
    • 1875/86, 1880/81, 1892/93, 1894/95, 1900/01, 1901/02, 1923/24, 1982/83, 1994/95, 1995/96.

FA Premier Reserve League North

  • Winners:
    • 2003/04.
  • Runners-Up:
    • 2004/05, 2005/06.

FA Premier Reserve League South

  • Winners:
    • 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2011/12

FA Premier Reserve League

  • Winners:
    • 2008/09.
  • Runners-Up:
    • 2007/08, 2009/10, 2011/12.

HKFC International Soccer Sevens

  • Winners:
    • 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010.

Aston Villa Academy[edit]

Aston Villa Academy is the youth development system of Premier League team Aston Villa, it fields both under-18s and under-19s teams in the Professional Development League 1 and the European NextGen Series respectively. Until 2012 the team competed in Group B of the now defunct FA Premier Academy League.

In the 2009/10 season Villa clinched top spot in Group B of the Premier Academy League, impressively notching the most wins (22), most points (68) and most goals (84) of all 41 clubs involved. Villa's youngsters were drawn against Group A winners Arsenal in the semi-final, which was won via a single strike from Nathan Delfouneso. This subsequently meant a final against FA Youth Cup winners Manchester City, which was comprehensively won 2-0, with goals from James Collins and Chris Herd. The top scorers for the season were Irish striker James Collins (23), Austrian striker Andreas Weimann (16) and English striker Nathan Delfouneso (15).The 2008/09 season was less fruitful for Villa's youngsters, as they finished 3rd in Group B, and were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup at the first hurdle, losing in the Third Round to eventual champions Arsenal.

Villa's youth team has a strong history in the FA Youth Cup with wins in 1972, 1980 and 2002. More recently, Villa also reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup in 2004, eventually being knocked out by eventual runners-up Chelsea.

The team train at Bodymoor Heath in North Warwickshire and also play their home matches there on weekends.

Academy squad[edit]

Players listed in bold are also part of the first team squad, as listed on the club's official website.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
England GK Charlie Bannister
England GK Dylan Forth
Republic of Ireland DF Robin Dempsey
Republic of Ireland DF Kevin Toner
England DF Courtney Wildin
England DF Kodi Lyons-Foster
England MF Daniel O'Brien
England MF Henry Cowans
Sweden MF Khalid Abdo
No. Position Player
England MF Harry McKirdy
Northern Ireland MF Rory Hale
Australia MF Ryan Strain
Slovakia MF Thomas Zazrivec
Australia MF Jordan Lyden
Republic of Ireland MF Jack Grealish
England MF Riccardo Calder
England FW Jerrell Sellars
Australia FW Thomas Strain
England FW Harry Lewis

Academy Honours[edit]

NextGen Series

FA Youth Cup

FA Premier Academy League U17s

  • Winners:
    • 2003–04

FA Premier Academy League U18s: Group B

  • Winners:
    • 2007–08
    • 2010–11

FA Premier Academy League U18s: Play-Offs

  • Winners:
    • 2007–08
  • Runners-Up:
    • 2007

Staff[edit]

  • Head Development Coach: England Gordon Cowans
  • Academy Director: England Bryan Jones
  • Academy Coach: England Sean Verity
  • Assistant Academy Director: England Steve Burns
  • Academy Coach: England Ben Petty
  • Academy Coach: Scotland Tony McAndrew
  • Academy Coach: Republic of Ireland Brian O'Connell
  • Academy Coach: Wales Mark Delaney
  • Academy Goalkeeping Coach: Scotland Ronnie Sinclair
  • Head of Education and Welfare: England Paul Brackwell

Notable Academy Graduates[edit]

The following players have all progressed through the youth ranks at Aston Villa and have either made at least one appearance for the first team in professional competition, have gone on to play professionally in the highest tier of a national league or have represented their national team. Players in bold are still contracted to the club.

2010s[edit]

Player DOB Position First-Team Debut First-Team Appearances First-Team Goals Current Club
Republic of Ireland Jack Grealish 10 September 1995 Midfielder 7 May 2014 (vs Manchester City) Ongoing Ongoing Aston Villa
England Callum Robinson 2 February 1995 Forward 24 September 2013 (vs Tottenham Hotspur) Ongoing Ongoing Aston Villa
Australia Reece Caira 7 January 1993 Defender 27 December 2012 (Australian A-League with Western Sydney Wanderers) 0 0 Wellington Phoenix
Republic of Ireland Derrick Williams 17 January 1993 Defender 1 December 2012 (vs QPR) 1 0 Bristol City
Republic of Ireland Graham Burke 21 September 1993 Striker 28 August 2012 (vs Tranmere Rovers) Ongoing Ongoing Aston Villa
Republic of Ireland Samir Carruthers 4 April 1993 Midfielder 7 April 2012 (vs Liverpool) Ongoing Ongoing Aston Villa
England Gary Gardner 29 June 1992 Midfielder 31 December 2011 (vs Chelsea) Ongoing Ongoing Aston Villa
England Nathan Baker 23 April 1991 Defender 25 January 2011 (vs Wigan Athletic) Ongoing Ongoing Aston Villa
Australia Chris Herd 4 April 1989 Midfielder 13 November 2010 (vs Manchester United) Ongoing Ongoing Aston Villa
England Jonathan Hogg 6 December 1988 Midfielder 13 November 2010 (vs Manchester United) 7 0 Huddersfield Town
England Harry Forrester 2 January 1991 Midfielder 11 September 2010 (Scottish Premier League with Kilmarnock F.C.) 0 0 Doncaster Rovers
United States Eric Lichaj 17 November 1988 Defender 19 August 2010 (vs Rapid Vienna) 42 2 Nottingham Forest
Austria Andreas Weimann 5 August 1991 Forward 14 August 2010 (vs West Ham United) Ongoing Ongoing Aston Villa & Austria

2000s[edit]

Player DOB Position First-Team Debut First-Team Appearances First-Team Goals Current Club
England James Collins 1 December 1990 Forward 24 October 2009 (League Two with Darlington F.C.) 0 0 Hibernian F.C.
Republic of Ireland Ciaran Clark 26 September 1989 Defender 30 August 2009 (vs Fulham) Ongoing Ongoing Aston Villa & Ireland
Australia Shane Lowry 12 June 1989 Defender 20 August 2009 (vs Rapid Vienna) 3 0 Millwall
England Marc Albrighton 18 November 1989 Midfielder 26 February 2009 (vs CSKA Moscow) 101 9 Leicester City
Scotland Barry Bannan 1 December 1989 Midfielder 17 December 2008 (vs Hamburger SV) 83 2 Crystal Palace F.C. & Scotland
England Nathan Delfouneso 2 February 1991 Forward 14 August 2008 (vs FH) 50 9 Free agent
Austria Robert Olejnik 26 November 1986 Goalkeeper 24 November 2007 (Scottish Premier League with Falkirk F.C.) 0 0 Peterborough United F.C.
Hungary Zoltán Stieber 16 October 1988 Forward / Winger 24 November 2007 (League Two with Yeovil Town F.C.) 0 0 Hamburger SV & Hungary
England Daniel Sturridge 1 September 1989 Forward 3 February 2007 (Premier League with Manchester City) 0 0 Liverpool F.C.
Republic of Ireland Stephen O'Halloran 29 November 1987 Defender 31 October 2006 (League Two with Wycombe Wanderers) 0 0 Stockport County
England Isaiah Osbourne 15 November 1987 Midfielder 21 October 2006 (vs Fulham) 30 0 Blackpool
England Gary Cahill 19 December 1985 Defender 1 April 2006 (vs Arsenal) 31 1 Chelsea & England
England Gabriel Agbonlahor 13 October 1986 Forward 18 March 2006 (vs Everton) Ongoing Ongoing Aston Villa
Northern Ireland Jamie Ward 12 May 1986 Striker 7 March 2006 (League Two with Stockport County F.C.) 0 0 Derby County F.C. & Northern Ireland
England Craig Gardner 25 November 1986 Midfielder 26 December 2005 (vs Everton) 80 6 Sunderland
Northern Ireland Steven Davis 1 January 1985 Midfielder 18 September 2004 (vs Norwich City) 102 9 Southampton & Northern Ireland
Republic of Ireland Wayne Henderson 16 September 1983 Goalkeeper 13 March 2004 (Conference Premier with Tamworth F.C.) 0 0 Retired
England Luke Moore 13 February 1986 Forward 22 February 2004 (vs Birmingham City) 98 14 Swansea City
England Peter Whittingham 8 September 1984 Midfielder 23 April 2003 (vs Newcastle United) 66 2 Cardiff City
England Liam Ridgewell 21 July 1984 Defender 4 January 2003 (vs Blackburn Rovers) 93 7 West Bromwich Albion
Wales Rob Edwards 25 December 1982 Defender 28 December 2002 (vs Middlesbrough) 9 0 Barnsley
Wales Boaz Myhill 9 November 1982 Goalkeeper 30 November 2002 (Division One with Bradford City F.C.) 0 0 West Bromwich Albion & Wales
England Stefan Moore 28 September 1983 Forward 11 September 2002 (vs Charlton Athletic) 30 2 Brackley Town F.C.
Germany Thomas Hitzlsperger 5 April 1982 Midfielder 13 January 2001 (vs Liverpool) 114 12 Retired
England Stephen Cooke 15 February 1982 Midfielder 2 August 2000 (vs Celta de Vigo) 4 0 Pelsall Villa
England Jonathan Bewers 10 September 1982 Defender 15 April 2000 (vs Tottenham Hotspur) 1 0 Retired

1990s[edit]

Player DOB Position First-Team Debut First-Team Appearances First-Team Goals Current Club
England Aaron Lescott 2 December 1978 Defender 2 January 1999 (vs Hull City) 1 0 Halesowen Town
England Adam Rachel 10 December 1976 Goalkeeper 26 December 1998 (vs Blackburn Rovers) 1 0 Retired
England Tommy Jaszczun 16 September 1977 Defender 28 October 1998 (vs Chelsea) 1 0 Brackley Town
England Darius Vassell 13 June 1980 Forward 23 August 1998 (vs Middlesbrough) 201 45 Unattached
England Gareth Barry 23 February 1981 Midfielder 2 May 1998 (vs Sheffield Wednesday) 441 52 Unattached
Jamaica Darren Byfield 29 September 1979 Forward 28 December 1997 (vs Leeds United) 10 0 Tamworth F.C.
England Richard Walker 8 November 1977 Forward 28 December 1997 (vs Leeds United) 10 2 Beer Albion
England Lee Hendrie 18 May 1977 Midfielder 23 December 1995 (vs Queens Park Rangers) 308 32 Retired
Republic of Ireland Gareth Farrelly 28 August 1975 Midfielder 20 September 1995 (vs Peterborough United) 8 0 Retired
England Riccardo Scimeca 13 June 1975 Defender/Midfielder 19 August 1995 (vs Manchester United) 73 2 Retired

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jones: I'll never forget Gabby's performances in Hong Kong Sevens". Aston Villa F.C. Official Website. June 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-15.