It is widely regarded as one of the country’s top breeding grounds for young English talent – and it seems that the Southampton Academy has done it again.
A new name is emerging from the League One club’s prestigious academy and hopes are high on the South Coast that Lloyd Foot will emulate the success of previous graduates who include Matt Le Tissier, Alan Shearer, Wayne Bridge, Gareth Bale and perhaps most famously in recent years, Theo Walcott.
Despite interest from Premier League giants Liverpool, Foot and his family decided that Southampton, their local professional club, was the best place for him to grow and develop his obvious talent. Having been spotted playing for hometown club Alton Town in the Tyro League, Foot impressed the Saints’ coaching staff during a 12 week trial and was subsequently invited to join their academy, becoming a first year scholar at the start of the 2009/10 season.
Standing at a strapping 6ft 2in, the 17 year-old brings a dynamic and domineering presence to the centre of defence that has become such a sought after commodity in modern football.
His powerful physique may suggest that he is of the old-fashioned centre-back mould – strong in the air, ruthless in the tackle – and admittedly, these are key elements of his game. However, Foot prides himself on his ability to play with the ball on the floor, transforming defence into attack with midfield splitting runs.
“I’d like to think I play a bit like Sergio Ramos,” he says. “I also admire Lucio and Southampton’s Jose Fonte for their ball-playing skills.”
An obvious leader, he captained the academy side for much of his first year as a scholar, Foot is also a player who thrives under pressure, an example of which came in a league encounter with Aston Villa last season when the defender slotted a penalty to win the game.
“I don’t usually take them,” he explains, “but our usual penalty taker had gone off injured so I told everyone that I’d take it, seeing as no one else stepped up.
“Good job I scored it!” he jokes.
Off the pitch, Foot displays the maturity and confidence needed to make it in the professional game. He is driven to succeed by a strong support team, led by his father Neil, and has a burning ambition to make it to the top.
He is also buoyed by the resurgence of his club since the introduction of new owners in the summer of 2009.
“Its going to be a really, really exciting season for everyone,” he said.
“The first team have got a very good squad now and at my level we have a new under-21 set up which will take us around Europe and around the world playing against a variety of top teams.
“It’s really exciting. There’s a great buzz around the place.”
With the Saints earmarked by every bookie in the country as the outright favourites for the League One title, Foot has made a personal mission statement to push on this year in order to be involved with the senior squad sooner rather than later.
When asked where he sees himself in five years time, he is very quick to answer.
“The Premier League,” he states, defiantly.
“I’ve decided this pre-season that that’s where I want to be. I’ll do everything I can to get there.”
If his rise continues at the rate it is going, there will be no stopping him.