Former City academy chief believes English clubs should learn from youth development in Norway
copyright: Archant 2014
Life has been very different for Gregg Broughton since he left Norwich City in the early stages of last season.
The head of academy recruitment was part of the staff changes at Colney in October 2017 which included club legend Darren Huckerby losing his role as under-23 assistant coach.
Broughton bounced back quickly though and by the end of the year had been appointed academy manager of Norwegian club Bodo Glimt – a role he filled for two years at Norwich before returning to his recruitment role in 2016.
“I always knew I wanted to work abroad next and Scandinavia was my preferred option because of languages, because of lifestyle, politics and culture and one or two other things which meant I wanted to experience Scandinavia,” the former Canaries academy chief explains.
“When the time came when the changes were happening at Norwich I had the opportunity and it was an opportunity I had to grab it with both hands.”
Having been with Norwich since 2012, Broughton – the brother of former Canaries striker Drewe Broughton – has been able to experience a very different approach to youth football in Norway.
“The big difference between the academies in Norway and the UK are at the two opposite ends,” he continued. “So at the youngest end academies don’t start until the age of 13, players are left in their club sides until they are 12.
“Having worked in both systems now I think that’s probably the correct model. I’ve just completed my Uefa Pro Licence and spoken to Nicky Butt, who is academy manager at Manchester United, and he’s got very similar feelings – that because one club does it, every club has to do it.
“So I think that’s definitely something the Norwegian system has over the English system – and I know this is something that English clubs would jump at the opportunity to do – is that our under-19 team, which is our oldest team in the academy and the equivalent of the under-23s at Norwich, they play in the fourth division so they play senior football.
“Now obviously the English system doesn’t allow that to happen and I understand the history and everything behind why that is the case, but it does happen here and it’s definitely beneficial to do that.”
There are similarities between Bodo and Norwich in the geographical challenges to recruitment, although at 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, it’s considerably more stark at Glimt.
“If you’re in Oslo you’ve got two or three huge clubs fighting over the best players,” Broughton continued.
“But we, a little bit like Norwich, are blessed and hindered by geography because I’m working for Bodo Glimt right up in the north of Norway and we are one of only two clubs up in the north along with Tromso.
“So they’re the only competition for players in our county, which is Nordland, and takes 10 hours to drive across, so in terms of geography they are going to come to us and there is less of a fight for players.
“There’s not as much poaching of players as well, there’s a little bit more of when a player joins a club he tends to stay there until he’s broken into the first team and then he might be sold on.
“We’ve seen that both with Alex Tettey and with Stefan Johansen at Fulham, who came through the academy at Glimt.”
Tettey was born in Ghana but moved to Bodo as a youngster and soon joined the Glimt academy, eventually emerging in the first team at Rosenborg. The combative midfielder was capped 34 times by Norway and signed a new two-year contract with City at the end of last season, giving him the chance to keep adding to the 177 appearances he has clocked up since 2012.
“He is very fondly remembered here, as is Stefan Johansen,” Broughton added. “There are three or four players who have gone on to do well but they are the two to come through the academy and gone on to play in the Premier League.”
As he looks back on his time on Norfolk, Broughton doesn’t bear a grudge about losing his job at City.
“I feel very blessed that I had the opportunity to work for such a great club, with such great people,” he said. “I will always look back on that time with very fond memories.”
He added: “There are some really good players in the Norwich academy and some really good staff as well.
“I hope the club continues to benefit and under the new structure I think they really will do because (sporting director) Stuart Webber’s got a really tough job and making a good job of it and in terms of (head coach) Daniel Farke you’ve got the perfect man to implement that.”