Sunday, December 9, 2007

One-on-One With Reading

Scouts are here at the Development Academy Nike Friendlies in abundance. As they stroll around the grounds watching games, taking notes, and catching some sun (after all most are from England and Germany), we decided to stop Steve Shorey from Reading Football Club to get a few thoughts on the tournament. Mr. Shorey has been with Reading for some time, and knows a fair bit about developing young talent – his son is Nicky Shorey, the Reading fullback and England International. How did you find out about the Development Academy Nike Friendlies?

Steve Shorey: “In England the agent for Nike, who is a friend of mine, gave me call and told me about this tournament. I spoke to my people at Reading Football Club, and we thought it’d be a good idea to have a representative from our academy come out and take a look. We’ve got two American internationals in our roster, and if we could add a few younger talents to that it’d be lovely.” You’re one of the teams with more than one American in the squad. Does that show that you guys see America as a place to find young talent and future premier league players?

SS: “We don’t close our eyes to any nationality, football is a global game. That’s why the World Cup is such a huge event every four years. You have to go and search out new talent for your football club. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but sometimes you can be lucky.” How are American players viewed, especially coming from England?

SS: “England’s a bit unique in the way we play football. The game is at such a high pace. Players from an Iceland or a South Korea, as we’ve got in our team at the moment, often need time to adjust. The same was true for Bobby (Convey), not so much for Marcus (Hahnemann) because he was a goalkeeper, but when Bobby first came to Reading, he never looked like he was going to turn the corner. Then, in he had a proper preseason with us, and went on to have an excellent second season in England.”

"You only need to ask Bobby how long it took him to adjust, and that’s a 20 year-old who has already played in the national side. That’s why we like to get boys over when they’re a younger age. It gives them a much bigger chance to succeed, to become used to the way we play football, and then when they turn 18, hopefully they have a chance in the senior team.” Talk a bit about what you’re doing at the tournament in terms of scouting? What do you do to pick out players you think will succeed at Reading?

SS: “First and foremost it is identifying talent. Sometimes the biggest difficulty though is knowing whether or not the boy has the right paperwork to come to the EU. It’s a very tough issue to get around because, as you can imagine, sometimes the boys you’d like to get don’t have the paperwork, and the ones that maybe aren’t ready yet for our standard of football do have the right papers. Often times if I see somebody that just maybe isn’t quite up to our level, I’ll pass a tip to a club in the Championship or lower division who I know is looking for a position or certain type of player.” Lets say you come down here and find a Bobby Convey or a Marcus Hahnemann, how does that benefit Reading?

SS: “The way the price of footballers on the market is, it’s unbelievable. While if you can find a young footballer here, almost all you need to pay for is his airfare. And that’s a tremendous result for our club. A younger boy playing for a club in England can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, but you can come to America and find a 16 year-old boy who’s just as good.” What are some of the qualities you find in young players in America?

SS: "Well, you definitely find boys who have good technique. What they’d have to get used to is the way that we play football in England, with pressure and at a high pace. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, but that’s another story. To play in the Premiership you need to be up to a certain speed, and that’s maybe the one thing that is lacking. Mostly it’s just because of the way that football is played here, and the weather and heat have a lot to do with the slower pace of the game. That’s why it’s good to get these kids over to our academy early, so they have as much time to learn the game as possible."

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