James Vaughan has set out his excitement about playing a key role in Everton’s new Academy structure as the Club’s Loans Pathway Manager.
In an evertontv interview, the former Blues striker also opened up on his “refreshing” conversations with Director of Football Kevin Thelwell and Academy Director Gareth Prosser about Everton’s vision.
Vaughan, 34, has moved to Everton from Tranmere Rovers, where he was the League Two side’s Sporting Director.
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He explained how his deep affection for Everton was central in his decision to take on his new role.
Vaughan joined Everton aged nine and progressed through the Club’s youth ranks to make 60 First-Team appearances, scoring nine goals. He remains the Premier League’s youngest-ever scorer, having netted for the Blues against Crystal Palace aged 16 years and 270 days in 2005.
“It feels like I’ve come home,” Vaughan told evertontv.
“Tranmere gave me a massive opportunity and the people who worked there were fantastic with me.
“But Everton is where grew up as a kid and I couldn’t turn down the chance to come back here. It’s the club that’s closest to my heart.
“In my role, I will be monitoring the lads who are out on loan and giving them any support they need. Further from that, it will be concentrating on the next players who need to go out on loan, making sure we get the right loans for them and giving them the best opportunity to be successful.”
Vaughan’s appointment – as well as that of Academy Director Prosser – follows a strategic review of Everton’s football operations. Vaughan revealed how he has spoken extensively to Prosser and Director of Football Thelwell about Everton’s future plans.
“The conversations have been really refreshing,” he says.
“There have been a lot of ideas and a lot of thought going into what’s happening here. It’s a really exciting time to join the Club.
“Everyone is looking to build something, progress and maintain the traditions of this club in getting Academy players into the First Team.
“It’s what this club is about – and hopefully we can see some success from us all being unified and together.
“Kevin [Thelwell] has been brilliant with me. At my age, to work alongside someone him is a massive opportunity.
“It’s one of the biggest reasons I wanted to come here.
“It [Thelwell’s knowledge and experience] is something I really want to tap into and get as much as I can out of.”
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ACADEMY DIRECTOR PROSSER'S FIRST EVERTON INTERVIEW
Vaughan called time on his playing days in 2021 following 17 years in the professional game, having scored more than 100 league goals.
In his formative years as an Everton First-Team player, Vaughan enjoyed loan spells at Derby County, Leicester City and Crystal Palace.
That experience, he believes, can prove invaluable as he builds connections with Blues talents out on loan.
“The biggest thing is I’ll be able to understand them, because I’ll have felt it,” says Vaughan, who went on to play for the likes of Huddersfield Town, Sunderland and Wigan Athletic after leaving Everton in 2011.
“The loans I had were crucial.
"It’s about knowing what we want from each player individually and trying to plot the best path for them to get into the First Team here.”
Vaughan also outlined how he will strive to ensure each future loan agreement gives each player the optimum chance to grow.
He added: “We need to understand the player and then marry that up with the right club.
“Hopefully, I can bring my knowledge of the lower leagues and make sure the loans are the right ones for each player.
“We want to build trust with the players, so they trust us with the plan, and we can help guide them.
“I want to get as many lads as possible playing First-Team football for Everton or having a successful career elsewhere.”
Vaughan watched at close quarters last season as Everton midfielder Lewis Warrington flourished on loan at Tranmere.
After joining Rovers in January, the 19-year-old quickly established himself as an important player and started all of their final 17 matches of the campaign.
Warrington signed for League One Fleetwood Town on a season-long loan on transfer deadline day – and Vaughan says his progression shows the value of young players gaining First-Team experience.
“Lewis went into Tranmere and took his chance,” Vaughan said. “The credit has to go to him for that.
“At times, he really dragged the team along. You could see he was ready for First-Team football and I’m sure he’ll do the exact same thing this season at Fleetwood.
“For players like Lewis, it’s then a case of making sure we can help transition them from the Football League to hopefully playing in the First Team here at Everton one day.”