Leicester City Academy chief proud of emerging talent
Leicester City Academy chief Jon Rudkin has spoken of his pride at watching the development of the club's emerging young internationals.
In over a decade as a coach at City, Rudkin has seen 21 players come through the ranks to represent their country and is delighted to see the likes of Andy King, who is currently on duty with Wales under-21s, and Northern Ireland under-21 international Billy Kee, who is out on loan at Accrington Stanley, making progress.
While Rudkin, who has seen Emile Heskey progress from a promising youth to a full international, said it was an honour for the players and the club to be recognised at international level, he warned it was only due to their performances for City that earned them their cap.
"It is a reflection on the young players that they have gone on to progress through the age groups," he said.
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"The only way they get international honours is down to their performances for the club. It is representative of what they are achieving here.
"As good as the recognition is to represent your country, and it is a wonderful honour and is something that all players should try to achieve, the main focus has always been how they are performing and progressing here.
"While we will always support them in their international achievements, it goes hand in hand. If they are performing well for the club then these opportunities will come along.
"It is a great experience for them to play against foreign countries, experience different styles in foreign climates and different types of officiating. It is a great opportunity to learn more and it helps their long-term development.
"The big thing is then when they return to the club they are back on club business. They have to be professional and try and build on the performances that gave them that opportunity."
Rudkin, who has been the head of the club's academy since 2003, said he was very proud to have seen some of the products of City's youth system go on to big things, and he has high hopes for a few of the current emerging crop.
"In recent years we have had Richard Stearman earn international honours, and going back a number of years we have had Emile Heskey who had his first outing with England under-16s at Lilleshall," he recalled.
"More recently we have had the likes of Tom Parkes and Liam Moore with England set-ups, and Luke O'Neill.
"There are also players who have been born in Leicester or raised in Leicestershire who have the opportunity to play for other countries, like Andy King and Elliott Chamberlain for Wales. They are doing very well in their respective age groups.
"Also, the likes of Billy Kee, who is with Northern Ireland.
"Andy King has been in and around the senior squad as well and that is a credit to him and how he performed last season, and the dedication he is put into his game.
"At under-21 level they gain a vast amount of experience. To have tasted it at that level is great for them and they need to use that to keep making progress with the football club."