Unsworth Leading The Way As Academy Targets Continued Success

The streak began, appropriately enough, with David Unsworth.

A belligerent team performance, according to the Daily Telegraph, that went some way to restoring wounded English pride in the first leg of a European Cup Winners’ Cup second round tie against a Feyenoord team that featured Ronald Koeman.

Unsworth, an Academy graduate, took his place in the team alongside Neville Southall, Gary Ablett and Graham Stuart, among others, and 22 years almost to the day after that October night at Goodison the streak continues.

The milestone of 1,000 games with an Academy graduate in Everton’s matchday squad was reached last month against Manchester United at Old Trafford and Unsworth’s pride in this achievement is unmistakable.

Everton’s Under-23s manager since 2014/15, he has now taken up the position of Director of Coaching at the Academy and will also continue to manage the successful Under-23s team who last season were crowned inaugural winners of the Premier League 2 title.

Fellow Evertonians Joel Waldron and Sean Lundon have also taken on senior roles with Waldron assuming the post of Academy Manager having successfully led the department through recent months. He has held various positions within the youth set-up over the past six years and will have overall responsibility for all areas of the Academy, reporting directly into Chief Executive Robert Elstone.

Lundon, who has been involved in coaching at the Club for 17 years, has been promoted to the role of Head of Academy Coaching. He will work closely with Unsworth to provide the leadership and strategy to build upon the first-class coaching programme with which Everton’s Academy has become synonymous.

“I’m delighted that the Board has asked me to take on added responsibility, not only in the development of Under-23 players and all areas of coaching with the Academy set-up but also in being able to shape the short-term and medium to long-term development of our Ladies team and the vital work we continue to do with Everton in the Community,” said Unsworth, who has worked closely with EitC Executive Chair Denise Barrett-Baxendale on the Home Is Where The Heart Is campaign and other important initiatives.


Unsworth led Everton Under-23s to the Premier League 2 title last season.

“Everton is my life and it’s been my life for many, many years. We’re all very proud of the way in which the development of young players is a cornerstone of the Club.

“This is not just a job for us, it’s a way of life. When we talk about players here having the desire to go above and beyond, to do more to be a Premier League footballer, it goes hand in hand with the staff as well. The coaches don’t just come in, coach and then go home.

“When you are a member of staff here, you are involved in numerous teams, advising and helping and spending ever more time at USM Finch Farm.

“We’ve had tremendous success in the last few years with players coming through. We’ve had many go out on loan to get that experience they will need in the long run and both Ronald Koeman and Roberto Martinez before him have given debuts and offered opportunities for many of these players to train with the first team. The bar continues to be raised, of course, and the challenge is always to get to that level.

“We have a lot of young, talented coaches here at the Club and, having been through that journey myself, I am relishing the task of mentoring and passing on help and advice whenever the coaches need it.

“Obviously, I’ve worked closely with Joel Waldron over the past couple of years and I’m thrilled that his knowledge and enthusiasm will be fully utilised in the role he has taken up. No-one knows more about the running of the Academy day to day.

“Sean Lundon has been with us over a long period and he has played a big part in overseeing the development of the likes of Tom Davies and Ross Barkley, as well as others. His vast experience is invaluable.

“For myself, I know the Club inside out, I know what it takes to produce young talent here, having done it myself. But we still want to be better and I want to be better and I think the best coaches always strive to be the best they can be. That never stops. I am looking forward to helping us to achieve the goals we’ve set ourselves going forward.”

Waldron has seen the growth of Everton’s Academy over the past several years and he is as excited about the future as is Unsworth.

“I’m delighted to have taken up the role as Academy Manager,” he said. “I’ll be working closely with our Academy Management Team consisting of the Heads of Coaching, Recruitment, Performance, Sports Science and Medicine, Education and Welfare, and Safeguarding to enhance our position as a leading Academy in the country and maintain the clear pathway for young players at Everton.

“We have a great track record for producing home-grown players and, if we want that to continue, then we need to recruit well and we need to develop well and those are the two key areas of focus.

“In terms of recruitment, we have always done well locally over the years and that’s our bread and butter - that will never change. We must continue to do that well in what is a very competitive area.


Everton's Academy Manager, Joel Waldron.

“As the boys get older, we also have opportunities to recruit from further afield and, when we do this, we want to do this really well also. This means having the right scouting networks and the right reporting systems in place. 

“Coaching is a huge area. It’s massive for us and includes a full-time model going all the way to the age of 12 in some cases, so we have plenty of access to our young players and we want to make sure the programmes we are offering are the best they can be. 

“We have changed the coaching structure, appointing David as Director of Coaching and Sean as Head of Academy Coaching, so we have strong leadership in place and our aim now is to develop the programme, which means spending time looking at our curriculum, looking at what it takes to be a Premier League player and making sure the two match up.”

Lundon, who has seen the Academy grow rapidly since it moved from a separate site in Netherton to the Club’s Finch Farm training base a decade ago this month, is excited about overseeing the coaching programme and ensuring a ‘best in practice’ approach is adopted all the way up and down the Academy ladder. 

“My job is to oversee the day-to-day coaching within the Academy and also to be involved in the planning of the curriculum, to ensure we are delivering what we say we are delivering,” he said.

“It’s my role to make sure everyone in the Academy is singing off the same hymn sheet. It’s also my responsibility to make sure that right the way down to the development centres and pre-Academy that we are all working towards the same goal.

“I’m a big Evertonian - I was here as a schoolboy and youth player and was a regular in the reserves back in the mid-1980s.


Sean Lundon, the Blues' Head of Academy Coaching, has worked at the Club for the past 17 years.

“I was fortunate that Everton offered me a position whilst I was quite young and I have worked in almost every role in the Academy since I joined in 1999. Latterly, I’ve been working with the Under-18s and now I occupy this position.

“It’s been a natural progression - I’ve had a lot of experience and hopefully I bring a lot to the role. Because of that experience I’m able to work across the breadth of the Academy and have a rounded view of what’s needed.”

Another notable appointment is that of Richard Battle to the role of Head of Academy Performance following his contributions to the Academy since the start of 2017.

Battle will work closely with Waldron to develop long-term strategies across all departments to ensure the Blues remain at the forefront of youth development.


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