Crewe Alexandra’s young guns have proven they can mix it with some of Europe’s elite in tournament competition.
Academy Manager Aidan Callan took two squads to the Pro Academy Series 2023 tournament in Stevenage recently – and the Under-11s and U12s did the club proud.
The U11s reached the semi-finals of their category along with Manchester City, Chelsea, and AC Milan.
And the U12s also made it to the final four, rubbing shoulders with Chelsea, Atalanta, and Norwich City.
Callan said: “It’s the second year we have entered sides into this tournament, and it has proven a really worthwhile exercise.
“The majority of the time in the academy, coaches place emphasis on development and performance. They are looking for the skills and techniques learned in training to be replicated in game situations.
“But it’s a different focus at an event like this one, and it’s important too. The players have to win games, deal with pressure, and manage their emotions in an atmosphere.
“It’s important that our Foundation Phase players experience the feelings that go with both winning and losing football matches, because every footballer has to go through that. I’m really proud of how they played and conducted themselves.”
The U11s topped their group above the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea – winning seven games out of seven – and then knocked out Hibernian and Norwich, before being edged 2-0 by a classy Rossoneri.
The U12s finished third in a group which included Chelsea and Polish side Cracovia. They beat Next Level Soccer and Plymouth on their way to the semis, where they were edged 2-1 by Norwich.
Earlier in the year, Crewe took the U9s and U10s to a tournament at the same venue, and both reached the quarter-finals.
The U9s finished third in a group containing Aston Villa and eventual winners Juventus, before bowing out at the hands of Blackpool.
The U10s also finished third in their group, just behind Chelsea and Burnley. They eventually lost out to Reading.