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Matt Gault from “These Football Times” takes an in-depth look at the workings of the Anderlecht Football Academy in Belgium.
IN THE BUILD-UP TO THE 2014 WORLD CUP IN BRAZIL, there was a feverish excitement bubbling around Marc Wilmots’ Belgium squad, with many making a bold prediction that they would reach the latter stages of a tournament that had seen them impress only once; with a fourth-placed finish at Mexico ’86.
In the end, Belgium were eliminated in the quarter-final by Argentina after a series of satisfying, if not spectacular performances. The overwhelming feeling was that this Belgium were not quite there yet, but their time is certainly on the horizon. Anderlecht, the champions of the Belgian Pro League, have been partially responsible for ushering in this so-called ‘Golden Generation’ for the Les Diables Rouges.
Anderlecht is a club with young blood flowing through its veins. The most decorated sporting institution in Belgium is a praiseworthy enterprise which remains wholly dedicated to the production of talented footballers. Anderlecht’s laudable and remarkably fecund academy structure has garnered widespread acclaim throughout the European footballing community, with their model for youth development being studied and replicated.
The club has a clear vision for its academy: to produce players that will be capable of top-flight and Champions League football by the ages of 18-21. Their slogan of “Turn your passion into your profession” is one that underlines the dedication and discipline espoused by the club.
Herman Van Holsbeeck, Anderlecht’s General Manager, said in their academy manifesto that it was the club’s responsibility to maintain their excellent reputation and act as a “relay station” between domestic clubs and international giants. With Romelu Lukaku, Adnan Januzaj and Vincent Kompany among the academy’s illustrious alumni, it’s fair to say they are succeeding in that mission.