As we mark EFL Youth Development Week, we're putting the spotlight on Exeter City, who have produced a number of talents in recent seasons.
During the 2020/21 campaign, some of the club's matches saw as many as 10 Academy graduates in their matchday squad; something reflected in statistics released in April 2021, which revealed that the Grecians had given the highest share of minutes to players aged 21 or under across the top four divisions.
Additionally, recent statistics from the Premier League, measuring productivity (player production including players developed at Exeter who are now playing for other Clubs) showed that over the last three seasons, out of all 92 Clubs, Exeter were 14th. When compared to the other 71 EFL Clubs, the club were seventh, and also ranked first in its own category (category three).
The ethos of the Academy is to produce well-rounded young men, as well as quality footballers. Players who have come through the Academy in recent years include:
Matt Grimes – Swansea City (captain)
The Exeter-born midfielder came through the club's Academy before joining the Swans in 2015. Grimes, who has played in all four of England's top divisions, recently scored a fantastic goal to help his current side to the 2021 Sky Bet Champioship Play-Off Final.
Ethan Ampadu – Chelsea and Wales
Another player born in Exeter, Ampadu rose through the Grecians ranks before signing for Premier League side, Chelsea. He has since enjoyed loan spells at RB Leipzig in 2019/20 and Sheffield United last season, and was just 16 when he received his first Wales call-up.
Ollie Watkins – Aston Villa and England
A familiar name to fans in the Premier League and EFL alike, Watkins has had a season to remember, scoring 17 goals for club and country, including his first for England back in March. His career started at Exeter's Academy, before he helped fire Brentford to the 2020 Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final.
Christy Pym – Peterbrough United
The Exeter-born goalkeeper came through the youth ranks at his hometown club, and was captain of the under-18 team when he was handed a professional contract by then manager Paul Tisdale in April 2013. He's since moved on to Peterborough United, winning promotion to the Sky Bet Championship in 2020/21.
Ben Chrisene – Aston Villa
The midfielder will hope to follow in Watkins' footsteps, having started at Exeter before joining Aston Villa in 2020. His Villa debut came in EFL competition, and he recently helped his side to FA Youth Cup glory, as Villa beat Liverpool 2–1 in the Final.
Jay Stansfield - Fulham
Son of former Yeovil Town, Hereford United and Exeter player Adam Stansfield, the 18-year-old is another Grecians graduate, and made his first-team debut for Fulham in January 2020.