St Albans City FC appoints new director of football
- Credit: St Albans City FC
St Albans City has announced a new role aimed at helping to provide a clear path for players in the community to progress through to the first team.
Dean Austin, 51, who has played at the highest level for several years, including spells at Tottenham and Crystal Palace, will be the club's new director of football.
The job has been years in the making, with the foundations being set in place back in 2016.
Dean said: “Chairman Lawrence Levy and I have been talking for the past four or five years really, over some of things that I’ve done at a local grassroots club and spoken about how St Albans City can build an academy structure and open our doors to the community.
“We want to recruit players who wish to have the opportunity to learn from the knowledge I bring which will ultimately see them playing in our first team.
“What the club’s owners want for the community is too exciting a project not to be involved in.”
Co-owner Lawrence believes the 51-year-old’s ideas match up perfectly with the club’s: "Dean shares the same long-term vision and ambitions for this football club as my fellow owner John McGowan and I do.
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"That’s so important when bringing someone in to head the club's footballing philosophy and development.
“He has in-depth experience right the way from youth development to coaching and managing at the highest level in the English game and we believe that having someone of Dean’s calibre and drive in our organisation will help take the club reach its long-term ambitions.”
The new format for the academy set-up allows manager Ian Allinson to continue his aims in the community, bringing players from the local area to the fore in the National League South.
Ian said : “I think it’s going to be exciting. The process that we’ve had in the last five or six years hasn’t really progressed in terms of the players we’ve tried to develop.
"Already you see we’re looking to develop players and push them through to the first team.
“St Albans is a big city so it's only right we bring these players through and give them the opportunity to play in the first team, and then hopefully we can help them push onto into the Football League.”
The appointment looks to build on the success of the first season of the academy last year, with Huw Dawson and Alex Lankshear both playing a large part in pre-season, with the former starting both of the Saints’ two opening league fixtures.
For Dean, the appointment is a way to give back to the club who gave him his first start in football back in 1989: “I wouldn’t be doing this role at any other non-league club.
“I’ve been fortunate in my career to play at the level I did, but I’m here because it’s St Albans, the city I’ve lived in pretty much the majority of my life.
“It’s also the club that gave me my big opportunity when I was rejected from professional football at 18.”
His first step will be to double the size of the academy, with the introduction of age groups from u13-u15 arriving as new additions to the set-up.
The Saints host Welling Utd on Saturday from 3pm as they look to collect their first points of the season.