Fulham planning future success by building exciting youth team

Fulham Turnstiles

The future looks bright at Fulham, and it is not just because of new rich owner Shad Khan.

When US-based billionaire Shad Khan bought Fulham fron Mohamed Al Fayed earlier this month, he may not have realised the potential of the club he was buying.

Now of course you would expect him to have done his due diligence, but it may be that Fulham's youth academy is at present a secondary concern of his as he gets to grip with learning about the quirks and needs of the first team he has just bought.

Fulham are very much an established Premier League club, but as they showed when they sold their best players Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey last summer, they are one which continually needs to evolve to compete.

Which places even more importance on a top notch youth system which can feed in young players to compete for places in the first team and save and even earn the club millions in the long run.

And Fulham's is well placed to succeed.

Fulham were crowned Premier League champions at under-18 level in May, defeating Reading 3-0 in the final.

Their star man was a familiar name if not a familiar face, a 16-year-old striker called Moussa Dembele, no relation as he is French rather than Belgian, who bagged a hat-trick to fire them to victory.

Just the previous season Fulham had won the competition in it's old format, as the 2011/12 Premier League Academy champions.

The team is coached by highly regarded coach Steve Wigley, who once had a 14-game spell as Southampton boss almost a decade ago, and has been involved recently with the England under-21 setup.

A number of players within the squad are expected to make the step up to under-21 level next season, the next step in challenging for first team sports.

But perhaps the most interesting aspect of Fulham's youth drive, is their determination not to rest on their laurels, but to continue to add to their collection of talented prospects.

In January they beat Manchester United and Celtic to the signing of 'Irish sensation' Noe Baba, a 16-year-old Cameroon born player who grew up in the Republic and has captained their under-17 side.

And just this week they have secured the signature of Birmingham City prodigy Foday Nabay, who at just 15 had also attracted the attentions of Manchester City.

This was despite Birmingham manager Lee Clark showing just how highly he rates the Sierra Leone born England youth international:

"I made it abundantly clear to Foday in several meetings with him that he had the potential to become the youngest-ever player to play for Birmingham City Football Club's first team this season at the age of 15."

Birmingham's loss is Fulham's gain, and Nabay added to the mix of Fulham's successful youth set up should steer him well as he embarks on his professional career.

The message is clear, Fulham are not just looking at the here and now, but planning to compete for top 10 Premier League placings for a generation, by snapping up the stars of tomorrow.

For fans, buoyed by the new era feel of the takeover of Shad Khan, it is an exciting time to be connected with Fulham Football Club.

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