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!