Cox: It's an honour to develop our young players
Manchester United's Head of Academy, Nick Cox, has explained how he came to take on the position this summer.
Formerly with Watford and Sheffield United, he has been working at the Aon Training Complex for the last three years. He succeeded Nicky Butt as the Academy chief ahead of this season, with the Treble winner becoming the new Head of Football Development.
In an exclusive interview with MUTV's Mark Sullivan, Cox detailed his work with young people and why he is so excited by his hugely influential role.
“My experiences really lie in the development of young people,” he said.
“From a football-playing point of view, it didn't work out for me and that became quite apparent at an early age. It actually gave me a headstart and an understanding of what it means to help young people reach their full potential.
”With a background in teaching and a background in sports science, I found my way, by luck rather than anything, into coaching, community work and just kind of helping young people through sport.
“Then I was blessed to have a bit of a fairytale experience with Watford, for 12 seasons, where I was exposed to some amazing people and had a chance to do every job there. It was a small club, with not much money, but we had a real go at embracing our community and developing Academy players, trying to get them into the first team.
“It was a blessing really as it gave me an opportunity to really hone my craft in youth development and I finished as Academy manager. I was surrounded by incredible people, such as Brendan Rodgers, Aidy Boothroyd, Malky Mackay, Sean Dyche and Mark Warburton, all sitting around the table, maybe not all at the same time but in a four or five-year period, and we didn't realise what we were doing was special at the time.
”We were doing our best but you reflect and look back and some [of the players I worked with] have gone on to incredible things as individuals. At Watford, we produced 50 young people who played in the first team, some of those are reasonable household names now. I moved on to Sheffield United as Academy manager and although that was for a much shorter period of time, we had real success in helping young people reach their full potential and many of them played for Sheffield United's first team.
“Then that led to arriving here three years ago and it was like landing on the moon or winning a gold medal. It's the job everybody dreams of. It was an exciting time to be brought here and now it's a real honour and privilege to be given the mandate of leading the way in how we are going to develop our young players moving forward.”
Cox's role is a key one for ensuring the club's young players enjoy the experience of being at Manchester United and reach their potential, on and off the field.
“As Head of the Academy, I oversee the development programme and that starts with the youngest age group, the Under-9s,” he added.
“Prior to the age of nine, we have got the talent centres that are introducing boys to the idea of playing football. That journey continues until the age of 23. The ultimate goal is to help those guys have a successful professional career - ideally with us or potentially elsewhere.
”It's a great honour and a job everyone outside of Manchester United would love to have. It is a great privilege to have it and there are exciting times ahead.
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