12 years in the Academy
Lee Herron says it's a 'privilege' to work within the Royals Academy and is excited for the future of our youth set-up.
Our Academy Development Manager has now been at the club for 14 years, with 12 seasons now spent in the Academy - and takes great pride in helping young players develop towards the first team. Lee, as well as Head of Sports Science Karl Halabi, was on our books as a teenager back in the Elm Park days, and so has seen the huge transformation in facilities.
Herron has also witnessed the progression of the likes of Hal Robson-Kanu and Jem Karacan - and more recently Jordan Obita, who was our top scorer in a recent U19s tournament and helped the Royals beat the likes of Vfl Wolfsburg.
"It's been a great experience seeing the club and the Academy develop over that period and move in the right direction." Lee told readingfc.co.uk. "The most pleasing thing in the system is seeing players progress to the first team - that's why we do it. The likes of Gylfi, Pearce, Hal, Jem have all done so well and that's been well documented.
"It's also great to see players like Jordan Obita come through - he was an under 9 in my first year, and I've seen him come through as well as Matt Partridge. When you've been there for a long time, you become attached to it. The club is close to my heart and it's in my blood.
"It's a great club - naturally you want to be part of it for as long as you possibly can. To be born in the town and to work in the area I grew up in is fantastic. You want to be part of it as long as you possibly can - there has been some great success here and I'm sure we'll see some more great stuff in the future."
Herron also hailed the group of staff we has worked with for the past decade or so, and is pleased how strongly the club values its thriving Academy.
"It has been an absolute privilege to work with so many top quality coaches and people - like Kuhly, Doddsy, Eamonn and lots of others currently working and those who have previously worked here. The group we have is really important and we push each other every day," he added.
"It's great to have good people that want to do well for the club and work hard - it really helps the Academy and individuals develop.
"As an Academy, we're always making progress - we strive to do that all the time. It's not a quick fix - it can take a long time but we're trying to develop all the young players we have.
"It's been a good year in terms of our successful under-18s, who did well to reach the Premier League final. Ultimately, we try and produce players for the first team.
"The infrastructure and the investment we get into the club and its Academy is fantastic - it shows that the support for the young generation is strong and that the youth is close to the heart of the club."
Use the hashtag #AcademyWeek to pay tribute to the best season in our Academy's history.