12 youngsters sign Academy scholarships

By SFC Media time Mon 31 Aug Saints Academy

Southampton Football Club has handed scholarships to 12 players as part of the latest intake into the Under-18s.

Four players join the club from outside the walls of Staplewood Campus, but eight Academy players have also been awarded new deals.

The new scholars have signed two-year contracts until 2022, with the exception of defender Leon Pambou and midfielder Fedel Ross-Lang who have agreed three-year deals.

Those who have come through the Saints Academy consist of goalkeeping duo Gustav Lillienberg and Eddie Beach; defender Lewis Payne; midfielders Kaya Tshaka, Goran Babic, Ryan Finnigan and Diamond Edwards; with striker Harvey Woods rounding off the eight academy recruits.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - August 13: Gustav Lillenberg during a Southampton U18 training session at Staplewood Training ground on August 13, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Gustav Lillienberg training at Staplewood Campus.

The longest serving scholars, Tshaka, Finnegan and Woods, all joined the club in May 2012 as part of the Under-9s.

Tshaka is a Saints fan who plays in midfield, the same position as Finnegan, who has been at the club since the earliest registration point and has also been involved in England training camps.

Striker Woods came through the Academy as part of the full-time training model which operates out of Beechen Cliff School in Bath.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - August 13: Kaya Tshaka during a Southampton U18 training session at Staplewood Training ground on August 13, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Midfielder Kaya Tshaka continues his Saints jounrey with two year scholarship

They were followed into the Academy by full-back Payne in 2015 and a year later Serbian midfielder Babic signed from Brentford and has been involved in training camps for both Serbia and England.

Then, in 2018, goalkeepers Lillienberg and Beach signed after successful trials, with Lillienberg having been part of Sweden training camps and Beach transforming from an outfield player to moving between the sticks.

The group of eight Academy players is then completed by attacking midfielder Edwards, who moved to Southampton in 2018 from Reading.

The final scholarship group is then joined by the latest recruits of Pambou, Ross-Lang, Northern Irish defender Matthew Carson and striker Luke Pearce.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - August 13: Matt Carson during a Southampton U18 training session at Staplewood Training ground on August 13, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Isabelle Field/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Northern Irish defender Matthew Carson is one of four new Saints Academy recruits.

Academy manager Edd Vahid is proud to see the Academy continue its reputation of producing players.

He said: “We have 13 first-year scholars overall, eight have come through our pathway and from various stages of that pathway.

“Some have been with us for the best part of eight years. We’re incredibly proud of all of them, I think we all have a special place for those who have come through the pathway.

“Whilst they’re very different characters, different positions, different personalities, I think the one thing that they have in common is a real enthusiasm and curiosity to learn and really understand the Southampton Way.

“We all talk about that a lot, but they understand the values, the behaviours, the cultures that we expect. We’re really delighted for those lads, it’s a big step forward in their football career, their first opportunity to operate full-time and I know they are looking forward to making that transition.

we're really delighted for those lads, it's a big step forward in their football careers.

Edd vahid
academy manager

Now they’ve been handed the opportunity to become full-time players at Staplewood Campus, the Academy Manager added some words of wisdom.

“The key is that they continue to replicate what they have done, because it’s proved to be successful to this point,” said Vahid.

“I think the biggest difference is that they’re now full-time, so they’ll be in this environment Monday to Friday and they’ll have a matchday on a Saturday, so that increased professionalism, perhaps increased expectation, and now they are only a couple of steps away from the first-team.”

Full list of first year scholars

Gustav Lillienberg (GK)

Eddie Beach (GK)

Lewis Payne (Def)

Matthew Carson (Def)

Leon Pambou (Def)

Fedel Ross-Lang (Mid)

Kaya Tshaka (Mid)

Goran Babic (Mid)

Ryan Finnegan (Mid)

Diamond Edwards (Mid)

Harvey Woods (Fwd)

Luke Pearce (Fwd)

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Academy sign four new scholars
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Academy sign four new scholars
Saints Academy

Academy sign four new scholars

Leon Pambou, Matt Carson, Fedel Ross-Lang and Luke Pearce join Saints Academy.

timeMon 31 Aug
Trio sign first professional contracts photo Gallery: Academy return to Staplewood