The Bale tale – proof of a magic youth academy?

Posted on September 9, 2010


By Tim Harris

THE OUTSTANDING form shown by Gareth Bale in recent months provides strong evidence that Southampton’s youth system is enchanted.

Gareth Bale began his career on the South coast

Tottenham and Wales fans alike have discovered a brand new hero in the form of Cardiff born winger Gareth Bale.

Bale exhibited some impressive displays on the back end of last season, and finished with a total of three goals to his name for Spurs.

And just three games into this year’s campaign, Bale has already found the net twice – a stat that has made the Premier League sit up and take note.

At only 21 years of age, Bale has already shown the flair and potential to become a real talent in this new generation of footballer; for club, and country.

Gareth Bale was a product of the Southampton academy, a youth setup that bears a certain charm, it would seem.

Another young talent to emerge from St Mary’s – is Theo Walcott.

And just like Bale, Walcott has made a phenomenal start to his Premiership season; appearing on the score-sheet no less than four times.

Theo Walcott - Manufactured in Southampton

It can be no coincidence then; that both these players, only four months apart in age, have exploded onto the scene at exactly the same time.

They made slow starts to their top flight careers, but Bale and Walcott have seemed to click into place at their respective clubs almost simultaneously.

It could be argued cynically, that Bale and Walcott both enjoy the benefits of a strong team around them to compliment their play.

However, this can be refuted by a man who lined up alongside Theo Walcott at Southampton – Tim Sparv.

The Finnish midfielder now provides his services for Dutch side FC Groningen, and already has a goal to his name in just thirteen appearances for the club.

Although it is true that Groningen sit near the top of the Dutch Premier League, none of the names around Sparv even come close to comparing to the quality seen in the Tottenham and Arsenal line-ups.

And the list of first class graduates from the Southampton academy doesn’t end there.

In previous years, St Mary’s has also produced the likes of Wayne Bridge, and Chris Baird – two more players who come with credible Premier League reputations.

So while the Saints senior team may be floundering in the bottom half of League One; their fans can take some solace in the knowledge that they have a magic youth academy tucked away on the South coast.

And with this in mind, should we now be looking to some of the fresh starlets who have recently been awarded professional contracts for the Saints?

Ryan Doble - Watch this space

How about 19-year-old Welsh forward Ryan Doble?  Or midfielders Callum McNish and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, at 18 and 17?

Names to remember perhaps…