Following the earlier announcement that current Academy Director Brian Jones was hanging up his youth hat and retiring at the end of August, Villa have now appointed Sean Kimberley as his replacement.
Jones leaves us with very big boots to fill given his work over a number of years and whilst giving his own recommendations as to who should replace him, the club also sought the expertise of an external agency to sift through potential candidates and Kimberley came top of both piles from the sound of it.
The 45 year old is one of us, born in Edgbaston and has been involved in coaching, development and the recruitment of young players for the last two decades and he will now take up his new position on September 1.
Having been the assistant Academy Director at Blackburn Rovers, he joined us as a youth development officer back in 2007, and has headed up our youth recruitment processes for the past seven years becoming an integral part of our Academy team.
Speaking to the Official Site as the news was announced, Kimberley said.
‘It’s a huge privilege and honour to be entrusted with continuing the club’s proud tradition in finding quality young players to play for Aston Villa. I see our role, collectively, as one in which we work closely alongside and support our first team, trying to nurture and produce the right kind of players who can advance the club. First and foremost, that’s what we’re here for. Players have to be good enough but youth is always given its opportunity at this club.’
Kimberley goes on to say that he knows Jones is a tough act to follow now given what he has brought to our Academy, especially since the introduction of the Barclays Premier League Academy system back in 1998, and in his mind ‘no one can follow BJ’ so in many ways it’s a new era and a new beginning and he’s going to do his utmost to embrace that, but importantly continue the core values that we already have.
‘I’m humbled to be given the responsibility of leading the Academy forward into this new era. The legacy and core values which are integral to the work which is carried out by our quality staff will remain very much in place and that’s important. There has never been more focus on youth development – in terms of investment, scrutiny and longer term development in line with the Elite Player Performance Plan, but our aims and priorities won’t change and these are to identify and recruit the best raw potential talent locally, nationally and internationally and developing these young players through high quality coaching so that they may one day play in our first team.’
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