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Page last updated at 05:48 GMT, Wednesday, 5 May 2010 06:48 UK

West Ham honour youth boss who nurtured 80m of talent

Clockwise: Tony Carr, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Glen Johnson, Jermain Defoe, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole

When England travel to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, manager Fabio Capello will owe huge gratitude to one man with whom he has exchanged only one word.

For more than 30 years, Tony Carr has headed up the West Ham United youth academy. Now graduates of its acclaimed development programme are likely to provide a quarter of the international squad.

Seven current England internationals, with a total of 345 caps between them, have passed through the east London set-up.

And while Capello has, so far, only said the word 'hello' to him, Carr's service to the club he supported as a boy will be rewarded on Wednesday night when many of those stars turn out for his testimonial at Upton Park.

Imagine Rio Ferdinand playing in a team alongside his brother Anton for the first time since they were youngsters; then picture Chelsea icons John Terry and Frank Lampard, usually guaranteed a hostile reception, playing at the Boleyn Ground in West Ham shirts.

It is set to happen at the tribute for 59-year-old Carr, whose values of hard work, discipline and fun, have oiled the conveyor belt of talent which has netted the east London club a fortune in transfer sales.

£18m Rio Ferdinand (Leeds)
£11m Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
£6.6m Joe Cole (Chelsea)
£6m Jermain Defoe (Spurs)
£6m* Glen Johnson (Chelsea)
£2.75m* Michael Carrick (Spurs)
*Plus sell-on/appearance clauses

"The ethos of the football club has always been to produce the best local young talent that they can attract," said Cockney Carr, who was born a penalty kick away from the famous Bow Bells.

"Although it's getting tougher, we are still trying to maintain that ethos.

"It's a very working class area with lots of kids that love the game. People are keen, there's lots of leagues, there's enthusiasm for the game. We've just been lucky it's a fertile area for young talent."

The talent developed by West Ham includes current England captain Ferdinand, his predecessor Terry, plus international team-mates Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Glen Johnson and Jermain Defoe.

All left, for a variety of reasons, including relegation from the Premier League in 2003 with a side that contained four of those seven in Cole, Carrick, Johnson and Defoe.

"Rio was sold for £18m, Frank £11m. Someone added it up and said you're talking about £80m," said Carr, who has been ably aided down the years by chief scout Jimmy Hampson.

"Other players, not so much the bigger names, have gone for half a million here, or a million there, so you are talking about possibly that amount for the club in the last 10 years or so."

The expected testimonial presence of Terry and Lampard shows the respect which Carr commands and he hopes fans appreciate their appearance at the match.

"I've spoken to the players individually and they are all happy. Even though one or two have gone away and not enjoyed the best receptions, they have all been fantastically willing to come back," he said.


Carr could see the Boleyn Ground floodlights from his childhood home and as a teenager joined the academy, where he cleaned the boots of World Cup winners Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters.

Moore captained the 1966 England side which won the sport's biggest prize, while hat-trick hero Hurst and Peters provided the goals.

"I joined in that summer as a 15-year-old apprentice and was bumping into Moore, Hurst and Peters who had just won the World Cup so it was surreal, but at the time you took it for granted," said Carr.

"The lack of success at England level since then has made it a very big deal.

"Bobby was a great role model and example to young players in terms of the way he conducted himself, the way he trained and everything about him. Everybody looked up to Bobby as the captain, and the man to aspire to.

"I was a very young player and he was the captain of England but he always had time for young players and wasn't aloof in any shape or form."

The parallels between 1966 and 2010 are not lost on Carr, with another academy graduate in Rio Ferdinand set to captain the side, and he said the guiding principles remained the same.

"What you try to do with all the young players is try to give them good habits, on and off the pitch," he said.

Young Michael Carrick. Joe Cole and Frank Lampard with a photo of World Cup heroes Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters
Will Carrick, Cole and Lampard emulate the boys of '66?

"That means working hard, practising, trying to be the best player you can be and when you're off the pitch, conducting yourself in the right way and steering clear of trouble."

Carr did not make the grade as a West Ham player and moved to Barnet before a broken leg ended his career, and he was recruited by future manager John Lyall as a part-time junior coach in 1973.

He has helped England internationals such as Tony Cottee and Paul Ince, worked under eight managers, witnessed two FA Cup wins, several relegations and promotions, and radical changes to the world of football.

"With the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard, not so long ago, they didn't really come into clubs until they were 13 or 14 years of age, that's when the recruitment started to hot up. But now you are talking about seven and eight year olds and it's tough," said Carr.

"To spot talent that's going to go all the way at that stage is almost an impossibility, but we do try our best. Competition around London now is immense."

Evidence of the academy's continuing success can be seen in the current first-team squad, which boasts Welsh midfielder Jack Collison, England under-21 internationals James Tomkins and Mark Noble, along with the country's former under-19 players Junior Stanislas and Freddie Sears.

They are likely to feature in Wednesday's match, which could also see current Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola donning his boots.

"Tony has done a brilliant job, not only for West Ham, but for the whole nation," said the 43-year-old former Chelsea striker.

"So many important and influential players with the national team have started here and that tells you what he is all about."

Carr said there had been no suggestion West Ham's new joint owners David Gold, a former Hammers youth player, and David Sullivan would change the youth set-up despite cost cutting at the club to alleviate debts of about £100m.

"I've still got a year to run on my contract and hopefully the new owners see fit to renew it at the right time. I've got no intentions of retiring at this point," he said.

With more youngsters set to progress into the main squad, they may reap the benefits of staying loyal to the successful system.

And if England thrive in South Africa, there might even be another word for Carr from Capello.


Rio Ferdinand

Age 31 Clubs West Ham 1993-2000,
Leeds 2000-02 Man Utd 2002- England Apps 76 Goals 4

"Rio came to us when he was 13 and was naturally talented. He could head it, pass it, could score, he was a good defender, he could create goals. He wasn't always a defender. He came as a forward, became a a midfield player and ended up as a centre-back in my youth team and pushed on from there."

Frank Lampard

Age 31 Clubs West Ham 1994-2001, Chelsea 2001- England Apps 77 Goals 20

"We always felt, in the youth department, that Frank was an immense talent that could develop and get better and better and so that's proved. Circumstances dictated he left West Ham and he went to Chelsea for £11m, so the club have certainly had their money's worth."

Joe Cole

Age 28 Clubs West Ham 1994-2003, Chelsea 2003- England Apps 53 Goals 10

"When he first came to West Ham as a 12-year-old, he was just audacious the way he played the game. He was tricky, he was cheeky, he was so unorthodox in what he did and so skilful. We worked very, very hard to convince Joe that West Ham was his club. We always felt he was destined to be a great player."

Michael Carrick

Age 28 Clubs West Ham 1997-2004, Tottenham 2004-06, Manchester United 2006- England Apps 21 Goals 0

"Michael was gifted technically, had a good eye for a pass, two good feet and was always going to be a good player.

"He came down from the north east as he felt there was a little bit too much pressure signing for the local team. We had a house to look after our boys and he enjoyed that."

Jermain Defoe

Age 27 Clubs Charlton 1997-99 West Ham 1999-2004, Tottenham 2004-08, Portsmouth 2008-09, Tottenham 2009- England Apps 39 Goals 11

"Jermain came from Charlton. His early years were developing there. Our youth development officer Jimmy Hampson was the guy who took him to Charlton in the first place, and knew him very well. He was a natural goalscorer. He's a predator, he'll always score goals."

Glen Johnson

Age 25 Clubs West Ham 2000-2003, Chelsea 2003-07, Portsmouth 2007-09, Liverpool 2009- England Apps 20 Goals 11

"Glen was with the club from about the age of nine. His mother was a carer, who fostered kids on a regular basis but she still had time to bring Glen to training. He broke into the the team at a point when they were struggling. He had power, pace and enthusiasm up and down the line. He was a breath of fresh air."

John Terry

Age 29 Clubs West Ham 1991-1995, Chelsea 1995-
England Apps 59 Goals 6

"John decided to move on for whatever reason. To be fair to John he's gone on from being a midfield player and now he's a centre-back for Chelsea and England. There's no regrets in that respect, he's one that got away but you can't win them all."

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see also
West Ham 3-2 Wigan
24 Apr 10 |  Premier League
Academy success delights West Ham
18 Mar 08 |  West Ham
Noble wants full England honours
08 Jul 08 |  West Ham
Zola vows to stay as Hammers boss
29 Mar 10 |  West Ham

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