They’ve been Fantastic with me and I’ve really enjoyed it! – Wayne Hennessey on life at Crystal Palace

Just under a year after signing on the dotted line for Crystal Palace, Wales’ goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey spoke very fondly about his experiences at the South-East London club so far.

The former Wolves stopper has been in stunning form for the Welsh national side recently but is struggling to dislodge Julian Speroni from the Palace XI, Hennessey insists though that he is enjoying being back in England’s top division.

“It’s always nice to be back in the Premier League – for myself it’s good because obviously I’ve had my time at Wolves and they were in League One and things weren’t going well with me getting an injury but everyone here has been fantastic with me so yeah I’ve really enjoyed it.

“At the moment obviously I’m not playing but Julian Speroni is doing really well, the team is playing really well – hopefully we can get a few more points on the board and push on now”.

When the Welsh Stopper signed for Crystal Palace back in January he cited the fact that he wanted more playing time as a reason for the move but today noted that he wasn’t frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“It’s just part of goalkeeping. There’s only one spot isn’t there so it’s never going to be easy! The important thing is that I’m ready to step in but Speroni isn’t making any mistakes at the moment though so he deservedly keeps the shirt!”

It is clear to see from speaking to the Welshman that he and his Argentinian counterpart have a great relationship “He’s 35 years old but he’s in better shape than me I reckon! He could go for longer than me! He’s a legend, a great guy to know and a top goalkeeper”.

Hennessey has become part of somewhat of a Welsh Revolution at Palace as when he signed for the club Danny Gabbidon and Jonny Williams were playing for The Eagles before Joe Ledley followed Hennessey to sign a deadline day deal.

“Well I spoke to Joe and he was in negotiations with Palace too at the time and obviously I knew Gabbs – have done for years – they’re both just great guys to have around”.

When I was having my medical I was on the phone to Joe and we were saying how much we were looking forward to joining the club – plus it’s always nice to get a few Welshmen in the building!”

Despite being only 27-years-old, the Welsh Number 1 has been making a name for himself in football since he was a teenager at Wolves back in the mid-2000s. Hennessey was keen to express how much he’s enjoyed his career to date:

“I had some fantastic times for Wolves and I am approaching fifty caps for Wales at a very young age so I’m really happy with how everything has gone so far!”

I’ve not set any goals for the future because it’s very difficult to know what is around the corner so I’m just taking it day by day right now and I’m really enjoying it! Especially with Wales – I’m so happy with how we’re doing right now!”

Hennessey travels up north with the Eagles today as he and his teammates take on champions Manchester City in the early kick-off on BT Sport! Follow the side’s progress via the club Twitter feed – @CPFC

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Conwy Academy is great news for Welsh Football

Osian Roberts tonight threw his support behind the new Conwy Borough FC academy set-up led by Chris Whitley and looked forward to the opportunities it would give local youngsters in football.

Presenting a ‘Technical Football Seminar’ at Y Morfa Venue on the 15th of December, Mr Roberts was keen to discuss the importance of the youth football structure developing in the region.

“We have academies at Bangor, Caernarfon and all of the Welsh Premier League clubs and it is important for us that the standard of those academies are the highest possible.

It gives the kids the best experience and the best opportunities so it is great that Conwy, a former Welsh Premier League Club, have got one there now so that the kids in the area have got somewhere to go!”

The Academy is run by Conwy Borough Football Club Head of Youth Development Chris Whitley; Mr Roberts was keen to emphasise the importance of Mr Whitley’s vast experience to the project.

“Chris has got a wealth of experience and has helped in a number of different clubs over the years at that level and can lend that experience to the coaches, club, the players and the kids in general.”

Mr Whitley was buoyant at the prospect of Osian Roberts coming up to give the seminar: “We’re delighted to have Osian come to the club to give a seminar on academy and coaching work and its importance.”

“There’s a lot of people coming too – we’re thrilled to have him – it’s a great experience for the kids and the parents who put so much into the club so it’s a nice way to give something back to them!”

It has been nine months now since Mr Whitley took on the Head of Youth Development role at Conwy Borough Football Club; a role which he says he has been delighted with doing.

“I’ve worked across the leagues, Premier League, Championship and so on as well as a few positions in the Welsh League and I’m really enjoying where I am now.”

“I’ve tried to help foster a successful culture and the players are taking it on board and they’re loving it – I’ve been delighted by their response. I expected it to be a lot harder than this though to be honest!”

The First team are currently on a run of six games undefeated in all competitions, having won five and drawn one of their last six, and welcome Mold Alexandra to Conwy on the weekend.

 

Victory Shield win shows Wales’ Golden Generation Still to Come

The Chair of The Football Association of Wales’ Senior Technical Group, Chris Whitley tonight insisted that Welsh Football’s bright future is soon going to get even brighter.

Speaking to me exclusively after coaching a youth football session in Colwyn Bay, Mr Whitley expressed his immense happiness regarding the Welsh National side’s current success before promising more was to come in the very near future.

‘Chris [Coleman] and all of them speak about this current Welsh National squad being the Golden Generation but I think differently if I’m honest’.

‘The Golden Generation will be the next one. We have half a dozen players at least now waiting to come through to the senior squad that are going to be great players very soon. Make no mistake!’

Mr Whitley, who is also the Head of Youth Development at Conwy Borough Football Club, has been responsible for pushing through the youth development of a number of Welsh football greats such as Ian Rush, Mark Hughes, Gareth Bale, Ryan Giggs, Aaron Ramsey and so on.

However Mr Whitley thinks that the current group of youth players, such as the under-16s who won the Victory Shield recently coached by FAW Technical Director Osian Roberts, could make for Wales’ most talented squad to date when they join the seniors in the near future.

‘When we bolt these youngsters on to the existing lot, who in a few years’ time will still be young enough, we will have an exceptionally talented squad of players without a doubt’.

Whitley spoke of a number of Welsh Youth players who he believed had the potential to go to the top but picked out three in particular as his standout stars for the future.

‘There are so many talented youngsters coming through but Joe Murrell, Harry Wilson and Tyler Roberts really stand out for me’.

‘Tyler is absolutely outstanding in my opinion. I’ve seen so many youth players coming through but Tyler is the best number 9 I have seen in a Wales shirt since Mark Hughes without a doubt’.

Whitley’s career within the FAW has spanned over 40 years but he believes there are a number of key changes that have been made in recent years, most notably during Gary Speed’s tenure, that have put the current senior and youth squads in such a strong position.

‘This all started towards the end of Gary Speed’s era in charge where we said one of our objectives is to make our squads one of the best prepared squads in the world and they are without a doubt!’

Key changes have been made also in the way the FAW recruits its youth talent:

‘Our recruitment and retention of players now compared to years gone by has improved so much! To be honest, 75% of our team now are English-based players’.

‘Years ago we wouldn’t have discovered them because we didn’t go out there and look for them – we used to stumble upon them by accident sometimes’.

The National Coaching Conference took place in Newport at the Welsh Football Trust earlier in the week and, with a record number of coaches in attendance, Whitley believes the Welsh coach development is another key piece in what is currently a very successful Welsh Football structure.

‘The coaching education in Wales is first class, absolutely first class. We had a record number of coaches at our recent national conference – 350 coaches! Unbelievable!’

‘Our coach education programme is second to none. The Welsh Football Trust is doing a tremendous job in terms of coaching education and player development’.

Welsh football is currently going through a tremendous period of success and, having spoken to Mr Whitley about his experiences within the side and where we are making changes and trying to develop, I for one fully believe that the future for football in our country is very bright indeed and I hope we can continue to be rewarded for the amazing support that we fans have always given!