Those who know, already know. Neil Bath is (one of) the best in the business.
Those who don’t know, will now know. Neil Bath is (one of) this year’s recipients of the Eamonn Dolan award, which is handed out by the Premier League to recognize contributions to and excellence in youth development.
The long-time Chelsea Academy director has overseen the rise of the Academy from a run-of-the-mill youth operation at the start of the Abramovich Era, to the world class system that it is today, as evidenced by seven (7!) FA Youth Cup titles, among all the other domestic and European successes in the last decade.
Even before the current crop of graduates began leading the charge for the Youth Revolution™ — about a third of all first-team minutes were played by “our own” this season, many of whom joined the club before age 10 — the Academy had been turning out top level talent. And that included not just players but coaches as well, including Lampard’s assistants Jody Morris and Joe Edwards, not to mention most of the rest of the first-team coaches.
“I’m really pleased about this achievement. When you receive an award like this, it is for the efforts that have come from a team set-up. I’m very happy to be awarded personally but I also receive it on behalf of all the staff and players at the club because this is recognition of the work of many people.
“I feel very proud because it’s an achievement for playing your part in developing players but also in developing staff and I get as much satisfaction in seeing staff at the club grow as I do players.”
-Neil Bath; source: Chelsea FC
There’s a great (albeit non-embeddable because we’re stuck in the past still) video over on the Chelsea official website about Neil, with some lovely words from players and coaches, which you should check out by clicking here.
Also recognized at last night’s (Virtual) Premier League Academy Awards were Manchester United Academy “programme adviser” Tony Whelan, Manchester United standout (on and off the pitch) Marcus Rashford, and United youngster James Garner, who won the PL2 Goal of the Season Award. The PL2 Player of the Year was Liverpool’s Curtis Jones, who beat out, among others, Chelsea’s Billy Gilmour.