CALUM MCINTYRE believes Chester will produce a ‘long production line’ of talented youngsters to follow in the footsteps of Sam Hughes.
McIntyre, 23, has signed a new permanent employment contract with Chester, cementing his position as academy head coach and youth team manager at the club he joined in 2011, not only securing his personal future but that of the club’s burgeoning academy.
West Kirby born Hughes, who joined Chester as a 15-year-old, signed for Premier League champions Leicester City last month for a fee understood to be £130,000, plus add-ons should the 20-year-old continue his rapid rise into Craig Shakespeare’s first-team plans. McInytre, whose contract is being funding by one of the club’s key sponsors, Swettenham Chemists, believes Hughes can be the first of many academy graduates to come through the Blues’ junior system prior to making their mark in the first-team.
Matty Waters has been a part of the first-team squad for the past 12 months, while talented trio James Jones, Tom Crawford and Nathan Brown all signed their first professional contracts with Chester in May.
“Sam’s deal has changed the perception of the club,” he said.
“There’s always been this perception that Chester are plucky, we have a go and have a relatively strong set-up. But this now shows how good our players are and how good the programme is here. For Sam, it’s a fantastic achievement. He’s an incredible kid, an incredible talent and this is just the start for him, you’ll see what he goes on to achieve.
“I’m keen to stress this is just the start, this can’t be treated as the end goal, raising that sort of money for just one of our players.
“Sam Hughes must be the first player in a long production line at Chester. Matty Waters is a hugely talented kid, the way he conducts himself off the pitch is impressive and he has an unbelievable amount of potential and that’s important to note.
“Then you’ve got James, Tom and Nathan in the first-team squad, that represents where we’re at and what we’re doing. There’s a conveyor belt of talent here who will hopefully make the move into the first-team in time.”
McIntyre joined the Blues in 2011 on a part-time basis, before being appointed as academy manager 12 months ago on a full-time basis, but his new permanent contract will enable him to put plans in place for the future of the academy.
“It’s massive for me, in terms of security and being able to plan ahead with the future,” he said.
“When I went full-time here, 12 months ago, it was very much for a period to see what the role is as I was the first full-time Academy manager.
“The club wanted to see if there was value in the role, I’d like to think that there is. It’s more permanent now and it gives me the chance to put things in place for the Academy.”
McIntyre’s under 18s enjoyed a terrific run in the FA Youth Cup last season, knocking out established league sides Bolton Wanderers and Fleetwood Town en route to a third round tie at Broxbourne Borough, where the Blues lost 1-0.
McIntyre believes that cup run was vitally important for the recognition his team of youth coaches received, and insists first-team boss Jon McCarthy and assistant Tom Shaw will give the club’s Academy graduates their chance if they prove their worth.
“The FA Youth Cup run was big for us, we showed we can compete,” he added. “I don’t accept that we’re Chester and this is our level. I won’t accept that we should only go so far.
“The nights against Fleetwood and Bolton, anyone that was here for those saw first hand what those boys did, and there’s lads just as good ready to come through.
“We’ve invested our time in the younger teams and there’s now players ready to move into the under 18s and become the next group who Jon can start looking at.”
See full story in the Chester Leader