Under-18s coach to take up position with the FAEXETER CITY FOOTBALL CLUB can confirm that under-18s coach Lee Skyrme will be departing the club this summer in order to take up a new position working with the FA.
Since joining the club from Cardiff City in the summer of 2013, Lee has worked to develop under-18 players and push them towards the Exeter City first-team, and in his new role will work as an in-possession specialist coach with five different England youth squads, the age groups ranging from the under-16s to the under-20s.
Academy manager Simon Hayward said: “Lee has done a fantastic job in his time here. We’ve done a very good job of finding and recruiting good under-18s coaches, and he’s certainly followed in that mold. Kwame Ampadu was here for four years before moving to Arsenal; Kevin Nicholson was here for a year before his move to Cardiff, and Lee will now be heading off to the FA.
“His first year here gave us a real sign of how closely his philosophy matched ours, and what we’ve put in place over my time as academy manager. For us, the performance and the development of individuals take priority over results – but actually, if you look after those, the results look after themselves.
“The under-18s won the league in his first year here – that’s the only time that we’ve won the South-West Division, though I don’t think that we’ve ever finished outside the top five. The game away at Oxford towards the back end of the season really sticks in my mind, because we were struggling to play our normal passing game, but his half-time team-talk was inspiring. He was willing to do the right thing for the players’ development, even if it meant there was a chance of losing the game and therefore the league title. However, because the results follow the performance, we won the game and the league. That was a really good indication of his philosophy, and he’s played a big part in getting some of the youngsters through to the first-team in his time here.
“We’ve made the Youth Alliance Merit League in each of the past two seasons under his guidance. This year’s run in the FA Youth Cup was the furthest that we’ve gone in my time here; Lee went the extra mile to study the opponents and to come up with game-plans. It was bittersweet for us, because we felt that we should have beaten Preston at St James Park but for some lapses in concentration. Credit to Lee for getting us as far as he did.
“I’m sure that the academy staff will look to arrange an evening to give Lee a send-off, and if the timing is right, then we’ll try to invite some of the young pros in the first-team squad that he’s played a part in helping. His first crop of second-year scholars would now be the second-year pros – Ollie Watkins, Matt Jay, Connor Riley-Lowe and Jason Pope. It will be nice to thank him and send him off after an excellent three years. We wish him all the best in his time with the England national team – I’m certain that he’ll do a great job.”
The Grecians have already begun the process of identifying the best candidate to become Lee’s successor.