Everton Academy Director Gareth Prosser has set out his ambition to shape a “best-in-class” youth development programme which allows the Club’s emerging talents to flourish on and off the field.
Prosser explained how alignment and unity throughout the Academy will be instrumental in achieving success, as he revealed his “huge pride” in taking up such a prestigious role.
Prosser’s appointment was confirmed this summer and he will work alongside Director of Football, Kevin Thelwell, in overseeing all aspects of Everton’s Academy, implementing a strategy across age groups, progressing talent, and creating a clear pathway into the Blues’ First Team.
CLICK HERE OR ON THE VIDEO ABOVE TO WATCH PROSSER'S EVERTONTV INTERVIEW
He joins Everton with an extensive CV in coaching and youth development and notably held the position of Academy Manager at Wolverhampton Wanderers for six years between 2013-2019. During 11 years with the Midlands club, he worked alongside Thelwell, who was Wolves' Sporting Director.
Prosser – who has also had key roles at Derby County and the Football Association of Wales – was most recently General Manager of the Professional Game Academy Audit Company, which quality assures the youth programmes of all professional football clubs in England.
In a wide-ranging interview with evertontv, Prosser outlined his main goals at the Club.
“The aim for us is to create better people and more players for the First Team,” he said.
“We want to identify the areas where we can evolve and improve, so we can create that best-in-class programme for staff and players.
“Everton has a terrific history of developing talent and to have alignment from top to bottom across the Club will be very important.
“It will ensure people are on the same page and means the message to the players and the staff is a consistent one. That will hopefully make them feel more settled and able to give their best through training and coming to work.
“We want to further improve the pathway of players within the Club to the First Team and, if not at Everton, then at another club or into another career outside of football. We’ve got a huge responsibility to develop the people first, as well as the players.
“I want to create a culture where people enjoy coming to work, where they feel empowered to make decisions and challenged to be the best they can be every day. That goes for the players and the staff.
“If we enjoy what we do, then we’ll give our best and, if we do that, we can really bring this programme forward.”
Prosser revealed how conversations with Thelwell and CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale during the interview process for his role further heightened his enthusiasm about joining Everton.
Prosser added he is savouring the chance to work with a high-calibre operator in Thelwell again. Under the pair’s leadership at Wolves, their academy became one of the most admired in the country and they were part of an elite group of only six clubs to achieve an unconditional three-year Category One licence in 2016.
“First and foremost, Kevin is a really good person who manages people well,” said Prosser, who also worked with Thelwell at Derby County.
“He provides you with the opportunity to contribute and give an opinion, and he also supports and challenges you when needed. Ultimately, he wants the very best for the club and we work well together.
“In all the talks I held with Denise and Kevin [prior to being appointed], it was about where they think the Club is now and where they would like to be – in terms of the First Team’s ambitions, the new stadium, and their intent for the Academy to play a big part in that bright future.
“I’m very pleased and proud to be here and want to play a part in making this club the best it can be.”
Men’s First-Team boss Frank Lampard has shown his willingness to give young players opportunities throughout his managerial career.
Since being appointed at Everton in January, Lampard has overseen the progression of Anthony Gordon into one of the country’s most exciting young forwards, and given debuts to Academy talents Isaac Price, Lewis Warrington and Reece Welch.
Prosser added: “That [Lampard’s record] was another reason why this role at Everton was so exciting to me.
“At Derby, Chelsea and here at Everton, he has that record of giving young players a chance.
“That’s what we want and we can ask for no more. Our job is to make sure Frank and his team are provided with players capable of, initially, performing in training – and then playing in the First Team and supporting the Club’s ambitions.”