Adam Lallana has given his backing to Southampton’s current youth team ahead of tonight’s FA Youth Cup tie with Sheffield Utd.
The Saints Academy graduate featured in the youth squad that reached the final of the competition in 2005 and the semi finals the following season, and some seven years on, he still fondly recalls the moment he walked out at St. Mary’s for the first time.
“When you’re still a young lad it’s a brilliant feeling to step out there for the first time,” he told the Club’s Website.
“You invite everyone, and everybody comes to watch you because it’s a big game and it’s at St. Mary’s.”
“In the first year I remember we got to the final and lost to Ipswich. In the second season I played a lot more, but we lost at home on penalties to Liverpool, although we did also get to play at Anfield which was brilliant as not many people can say that they have played there, so it was a great experience.”
“We had a really good youth team with the likes of Nathan Dyer, Dave McGoldrick, Leon Best and Martin Cranie, so we had some great players around us which has been proved because they’ve all gone on to play first team football at a higher level.”
The current crop take on last season’s finalists Sheffield Utd at St. Mary’s tonight (7pm) and Lallana’s advice to the Club’s young players is simple:
“All I’d say to them is just to enjoy it.”
“It’s great for the lads as well because they get to play in a cup competition which can go to extra time or penalties, and it’s something that you always look forward to when you’re an apprentice from the draw to see who you’re playing, through to the game itself.”
“I watched them play against Arsenal the other day and they were brilliant, they won 3-0 in the end.”
“Harrison Reed looks like a good player in midfield, and obviously James Ward-Prowse has already played first team and trained with us, so there are a lot of good prospects there.”
“They’ve got a good draw at home, you always want that, so they get to play at St. Mary’s and hopefully get a good result.”