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Academy Squad 08/09


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The son of a former Liverpool captain will be in the Academy Under-18 squad next season. Thomas Ince, son of MK Dons manager Paul, has come up from the Under-16 squad to be a first year Academy player next season.


Swiss midfielder Lauri Dalla Valle is also in the squad having been part of the Under-18s touring party to the Middle East and the USA last season.


As revealed yesterday on Liverpoolfc.tv Swedish midfielder Astrit Ajdarevic is still under contract as an Academy player but is currently looking for another club, so is not named as part of Hughie McAuley's squad.


Liverpool's Under-18 squad for 2008-09 season.


First years:


Christopher Buchtmann

Deale Chamberlain

Alex Cooper

Lauri Dalla Valle

Hakan Duyan

James Ellison

Thomas Ince

Pajtim Kasami

Jack Metcalf

Adam Pepper

Michael Roberts.


Second years:


Steven Irwin

David Amoo

Nathan Eccleston

Sean Highdale

Joe Kennedy

Chris Oldfield

Marvin Pourie

Alex Kacaniklic


Third years


Gary MacKay-Steven

Shane O'Connor

Michael Scott.

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Swiss midfielder Lauri Dalla Valle is also in the squad having been part of the Under-18s touring party to the Middle East and the USA last season.

If only he was Swiss.

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Adam Pepper info...


Friday June 27, 2003

The Guardian



Life offers few better examples of the variety of approaches that it is possible to take to the job of parenting than the cases of Thomas Junta and Ronnie Pepper, two sports-mad dads who both had high hopes for their offspring. Junta - as anyone watching US television early last year could not fail to recall - disagreed so violently with the judgment of his school-age son's ice-hockey referee that he beat him to death immediately after the game, repeatedly slamming his head into the ground in front of the shocked players and prompting a new wave of fears in America over "sideline rage" attacks by obsessively ambitious parents.


Ronnie has been pursuing a somewhat different strategy with his son Adam, the 11-year-old football ace revealed this week to be the target of a battle between Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and several other top clubs, all desperate to sign the young Liverpudlian. The difference presumably has much to do with why Thomas Junta is now serving a six-to-10-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter and Pepper, a youth worker from Kirkdale in Liverpool, isn't.

"He's not in it for the money, and he doesn't want it all to happen too early for the lad," says the Peppers' agent, Peter McIntosh. And so, despite being on the receiving end of an awesome display of Premiership flattery - birthday cards from Ryan Giggs, a personal visit from Michael Owen, a pair of David Beckham's boots, and shin pads that formerly graced the legs of Ruud Van Nistelrooy - Adam remains defiantly unsigned.


If this admirably level-headed and protective approach to sporting parenthood seems increasingly rare, it is also increasingly essential. With economic competition, in football especially, unprecedentedly intense, the professional players of tomorrow are being hunted, and deluged with enticements, younger than ever before.


"It's a trend we've been seeing for a couple of years now," says Phil Smith, the football agent who represents, among many others, Arsenal's Freddie Ljungberg and Southampton's James Beattie. "You're put in the direction of good young players, and some of them have already been, how shall we say, got at. It's mainly newer agents, trying to get into the game - they can't get anywhere near established players so they do a bit of research and chance their arm ... Sometimes the parents are hoodwinked. Their backgrounds - they don't often come from an advantaged background, so they haven't necessarily got a family lawyer, for example."


But even Ronnie's protectiveness can only go so far. "I've stopped taking Adam to games now, because I just get pestered by agents and club officials all the time - they talk through the match," he said in the only interview he gave, to a national tabloid, before retreating into silence. "You can't blame the clubs," McIntosh says. "He's a good player, and if you had a star player like Beckham and suddenly he's got a pair of Beckham's boots - you can see why they do it. It's understandable."


Clubs and teams in many sports seem to be aiming younger, agents say, not least because the skyrocketing sums involved in buying fully-fledged players makes it a wiser use of resources to sign the most promising ones as early as possible, and much more cheaply. "When we signed up [the Everton player] Wayne Rooney," McIntosh says, "we waited. We knew him since before he was 14 but we wanted to let him come through in his own time, so he was 15 when he came to us." But that was then. At just 11, Adam is, McIntosh says, "very, very unusual ... but that's what's happening."


Ronnie's philosophy has much to do with the fact that he was himself a star player for Everton's boys team - a promising early career that didn't culminate in professional superstardom, despite the hype surrounding him at the time. "Ronnie was a real good footballer himself, and he's seen how it broke his heart and he doesn't want it to happen to his son," McIntosh says. "And they're a very close-knit family. They wouldn't want him going to Ajax" - the Dutch team also rumoured to have expressed an interest in Adam. "No money in the world could take him away from them."


Eric Hall, the flamboyant football agent not known for keeping his opinions to himself, has already been naming numbers in Adam's case, suggesting that he should be insured for between £1m and £5m, based on his likely astronomical earnings in the near future. "I'm not sure that does Adam any favours to talk about money like that," McIntosh insists, despite his obvious financial stake in the prodigy's success. "I've got grandchildren of my own, and I wouldn't want anyone thinking, oh, Adam's going to be making me £20,000 in a couple of years' time."


Things are already at a rather more hysterical stage in the US, where a 14-year-old soccer player, Freddy Adu, has already received a $1m marketing contract from Nike. "He's already wanted by clubs as far away as Italy," says Smith.


Taking matters to a more absurd extreme, there is the case of Mark Walker, a three-year-old who was caught on home video shooting 18 basketball hoops in a row - using a hoop 8ft off the ground, just 2ft lower than the pros. The size of his advertising deal with Reebok is undisclosed, but his ambition is certainly not. "It's a God-given talent," he told reporters, immodestly declaring himself "the future of basketball".


Adam Pepper seems unlikely to be making any equivalent statements any time soon. "I don't know what all the fuss is about," he has said, and it is a testament to Ronnie's approach to his son's vast talent that, McIntosh says, "all this stuff just goes completely over Adam's head. He could be playing against Beckham, he could be playing against his mate in the street. It's all the same to him."

Edited by richwilks
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Heard big things about him and Adam Pepper, seen nothing of either of them. I suppose they are too young for the standard You Tube clips.


I think Valle got almost a goal a game ratio in the games he played. Someone (I think a scout) described him as the most natural finisher he's seen at the academy.



Also, isn't Deale Chamberlain the England u-16 GK who Villa rejected for being too small

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Lauri Dalla Valle has done well according to reports in his hometown paper. However, the source for the info has mainly been his father, so it must be taken with a pinch of salt. The last match the U-16s played this spring was against a trialist team (that's what was reported) and played at Anfield. Lauri scored the only goal of the game.


As for him being Swiss, maybe the fact that he has a Finnish mother and an Italian father gives him that 'compromise nationality'?

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I know Ince trots out for 'Academy Player of the Month' from time to time but didn't he go to Tranmere's academy for a spell after his dad left us?


He played for Wirral schools, dunno if he was with Tranmere though, he's been with us for 4 or 5 years at least, I remember reading an interview with Ince where he said despite all the problems he had at the end with us he still sent his kid to our academy because he felt he'd get the best education there.


Robbie Fowler's brother was with us until a couple of years ago too.

Edited by Maldini
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Kurt over on TLW translated an interview with Lauri Della Valle and Adam Pepper that was in the Norwegian supporters club magazine. Quality KBB propaganda from Pepper's dad too :)


Q: There are no information coming out about the u-16 team. Can you give a quick summary of how it`s been going?


AP: We have lost 4 matches and won the rest, so it`s been a good season. Most of the players in this team are u-15 players, so we had a young team, but many of the players in that age group are very good players.


LDV: I`ve scored 5 goals in 6 or 7 matches.


AP: I`ve scored 16 goals this season.


Q: Why did you choose Liverpool?


AP: There was this guy Jim Aspinall who was a scout for Liverpool who followed me for many seasons. He made sure I came here to train on many occasions, and after he passed away some time back, it just felt natural to sign for Liverpool.


Q: But you do have a blue background?


AP: It is correct that I come from a family in Kirkdale where everyone are blue. I have had some comments, but nothing to serious.


Q: You needed some time to make up your mind Lauri?


LDV: When I was over for trials, I instantly got a good impression of the club, in regards to the reception I got and the facilities. Also having Sami here was no setback, and the club arranged for us to meet. Earlier I trained for 4 months with Inter Milan, but I was always tempted by Liverpool and I thought it through before I made my decision.


Q: Your dad did`nt try to persuade you?


LDV: (Laughing) No, not at all. He never tried to pressure me into signing for an italian club.


Q:Adam, we`ve been told that eager scouts sent you lots of boots to get you to sign for them, but you threw most of them away as you only play with black boots?


AP: My dad did`nt allow me to play with anything but black boots. 'You`re not good enough to play with white boots' he used to say. Now, I cant imagine me playing in other than black boots.


LDV: I have to admit I play in white boots.... (laughter)


Q: So how have you performed on representation level?


LDV: I have scored 9 goals in 11 matches for the 1991 Finland team, and next season I will represent the u-18 national team.


AP: I was captain for Liverpool Schoolboys at u-11 and u-14 level. After I signed for Liverpool I had to stop playing for Liverpool schoolboys, but most of the coaches there are coaches for Liverpool aswell.


Q: It has to be an exciting environment for Scousers playing with foreigners from all over the world?


AP: It`s very very exciting and you learn alot. The players from foreign countries brings new impulses from their former environments and culture, and at the same time they adapt well to the more physical football we play here. All in all it`s good to play and train with quality players and challenge yourself against them.


LDV: The training sessions here are short, usually only half an hour, but very intense. Thats very unusual for me. But after a month I started to adapt to and enjoy that type of training, who demands a lot of focus and concentration. It`s been 3 months since I arrived and I already feel a better player. The matches are played in a higher tempo and are more intense compared to Finland, and that also take some time getting used to.


Q: What are your main attributes as a player?


LDV: One on one situations. My shot and my ability to score goals.


AP: I would say my passing and that I can score goals from midfield.


Q: Any favourite players?


AP: Steven Gerrard


LDV: Fernando Torres


Q: What are your targets for next season?


LDV: To continue to develop as a player, play well score goals and contribute to my team winning the most possible amount of matches.


AP: First and foremost be good enough to start all u-18 matches and then hope to be involved on reserve level.


Q: But first... holiday?


LDV: Yeah, I will go home to Finland and I will also be involved with the national side.


AP: It will be a family vacation, but I will also try and stay in shape. Earlier I used to box and my family runs a boxing club, so I will go through some training sessions there. I also know that we will going abroad to train and play before the season starts up at the academy, so the summer will pass in no time.


Q: You are both still only 16 years old, but you are both familiar with attention?


AP: I did an interview with Liverpool Echo when I was very young and that led to too much attention for awhile. Suddenly a lot of people wanted to speak to me, and I was also quoted on things i never did say. My mom especially found it difficult. In the beginning my dad tok care of it, but soon we found out it was in the best interest to hire an agent to take care of it.


LDV: It has been some interest from the finnish press, but now that I have come to Liverpool I feel things are in place. I have signed for several seasons and I am very happy with how things are. I now live with my dad in a flat besides Sefton Park.


Q: You still live in Kirkdale, Adam?


AP: I live in the same place, but now the place goes under the name Everton. A Liverpool player living in Everton.....


Academy manager Owens comments on the players:


John Owens on Adam Pepper:

Adam is a quick thinker on the field and has a superb overview. He still lacks in the physical aspect, but he is quick and skilled enough to compensate. He likes t play behind a striker, he can dribble, has god passing ability, good ball retention and is always plays for the team.


John Owens on Lauri Dalla Valle:

Lauri has a great balance and skills as a striker, but first and foremost he is an excellent finisher and goal scorer. If he gets into the right positions, he has the abilty to make the right decisions. He can also play in the support striker role, but he needs to work with his build up play and teamplay. We dont want him to only hang around the goal, but we want him to develop his general play.

Edited by Maldini
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