Cup-winning youth coach hails Aston Villa’s owners for their backing

Proud under-18s boss Sean Verity believes Villa’s FA Youth Cup triumph is testament to the vision and investment of billionaire owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens.

Aston Villa's Kaine Kesler Hayden (left) and Brad Young (right) celebrate winning the FA Youth Cup Final at Villa Park, Birmingham.
Aston Villa's Kaine Kesler Hayden (left) and Brad Young (right) celebrate winning the FA Youth Cup Final at Villa Park, Birmingham.

Verity, who has worked at Villa for nearly three decades, claims it now feels like ‘a proper football club again’ thanks to the commitment of the board to developing young players.

Sawiris and Edens have ploughed millions into Villa’s youth set-up since their 2018 takeover, recruiting Mark Harrison from Albion to head up the academy and giving him the funds the secure some of the best prospects in the UK and Europe.

Ben Chrisene, who scored the opener in Monday’s 2-1 final win over Liverpool, was bought from Exeter last year while the team’s centre-back pairing Lamare Bogarde and Sil Swinkels were plucked from Feyenoord and Vitesse Arnhem respectively.

Verity said: “This new ownership just feels like they’re just getting everything right for the club.

“It just feels like a proper football club to me again. I’m not saying anything in between wasn’t but the whole support of what they’re doing in and around the club now, what they’ve done at Bodymoor Heath, the stuff that’s going on now, it’s a fantastic football club to be part of.”

After Chrisene’s opener, Brad Young got what proved to be the winner from the penalty spot before Villa, backed by 4,750 supporters, held on to win the competition for their fourth time in their history, following Seb Revan’s unfortunate second-half own goal.

Verity continued: “It’s more of the feeling around the football club. That starts from the owners who are obviously interested in what’s going on.

“Christian Purslow, the chief executive, was sat behind me on Monday cheering the team on.

“If that starts from the top then the whole football club takes its lead from that. So I really feel the whole support of the football club.

“If you add the fans as well. We had 5,000 people there on Monday and it sounded like 55,000 to me, to be honest with you! When they started singing at the start the hairs on the back of my neck started to stand on end.”

Villa’s academy staff has nearly doubled since 2018, while players have greater access to psychologists, physios, sports science doctors and the club’s new multi-million pound high performance centre at Bodymoor Heath.

While the cup win was unquestionably an occasion to celebrate, the primary focus is on producing players for Villa’s first-team.

Carney Chukwuemeka, a key player in the team’s run to the final, came off the bench in Villa’s final two Premier League matches of the season. There are also high hopes for the likes of Chrisene, Louie Barry and under-18 skipper Kaine Kesler.

Several of the team are likely to be loaned out next season in order to build experience.

“At the moment they are just good youth players, that transition to first-team football in the Premier League is huge,” said Verity. “That is why it was huge for Carney getting on last week and for the academy as well.

“In terms of what happens next, some will be loaned, some might jump and be in the first-team squad at the start of next season and then be loaned. It will be very much individual.

“One of the things Mark Harrison has done since he became academy manager was he’s provided pathways for people.

“He has the vision for the academy and the owners have backed him all the way.”

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