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Walsall FC appoint new Head of Youth

Thu 23rd Jun 2011 | Football Club Management

Walsall Football Club have today appointed Neil Woods as the club’s new Head of Youth.

The 44 year-old has signed a two-year deal at the Banks’s Stadium following Dean Smith’s elevation to First-Team Manager back in April.

“We are delighted with Neil’s appointment,” explained Saddlers’ Chief Executive, Stefan Gamble. “Neil has an excellent track record in terms of youth development and we feel sure he can continue to nurture the excellent young talent we have at this football club.

“For many years now we have produced quality footballers who go on to carve out a career in the Football League and Premier League.

“Neil’s experience and qualifications make him the ideal person for this role.”

Woods’ playing career saw him represent the likes of Doncaster Rovers, Rangers, Ipswich Town, Bradford City and Grimsby Town, where he spent the majority of his playing career. 

He earned a reputation as a hard-working striker before hanging up his boots in 2000.

After studying for his UEFA A License, Woods was appointed Head of Youth at Grimsby in 2003, a position he held until 2009. During that time, he brought through a large number of players who went on to play for the Mariners first-team as well as winning both the Midland Cup and Football League Youth Alliance Cup.

In 2009, Woods was appointed First-Team Manager at Grimsby Town, a position he held until March 2011.

“Neil is an excellent appointment,” added Saddlers’ boss, Dean Smith. “He has the passion and drive needed to succeed in the role and I’m sure he will be a valuable member of the coaching staff here at Walsall.

“We had some excellent candidates for the role but Neil’s experience and enthusiasm for youth football really shone through. I would, at this stage, like to thank Centre of Excellence Manager, Graham Biggs, for undertaking the role in a caretaker capacity since my appointment to First-Team level. Graham will continue to manage the Centre of Excellence and will, of course, work closely with Neil.”

”I’m looking forward to the challenge immensely,” added Woods. “I can’t wait to start working with a group of lads who just want to be footballers.

“During my time as youth coach at Grimsby we had some great battles with Walsall. I love the ethos of the club and I’m delighted to be part of it.

“I’ve been very impressed by Dean Smith’s vision for the club. I like to see football played the right way and give the youngsters here thorough preparation and knowledge so that they can progress into the first-team and stay there.

“I spent nine years in a similar role at Grimsby and during that time we sold over £600,000 worth of talent that had come up through the ranks. Outside the Premier League we were the second most successful club in the country in bringing players through from the youth team to first-team.

“This was achieved through sheer hard work and I can’t wait to get stuck into the role here.”

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