BURTON Albion Academy Manager Mike Whitlow is leaving the club after helping nurture talented young footballers for the last six seasons.Mike has decided to take a break from the game and will be heading to this summer’s Euros with his family before thinking about his next career move.
He says: “It’s been brilliant. I have been very proud of my journey here and hopefully what is going to be taken on even further.
“The club now needs someone else to drive it on. I miss the grass. The Academy Manager’s role has changed over the years. I never envisaged seven years ago that it would change this much. But it takes you away from being out on the grass – so I’m going to take a break from the game, watch the football in the summer and then think about my next step from there.”
Mike is delighted with the way the Academy has progressed.
“There have been 12 of the lads who have come through to get contracts but that’s not the only pleasing thing. Many of the other lads who have been on the programme have kept in touch – one of the first batch of scholars here has just signed for Tampa Bay Rowdies. The foundations have been set and we are now seeing the full rewards. Ben Fox was at the very first day of open trials and has come all the way through to get a pro contract.
“What a lot of people don’t see is all the effort given by everyone involved behind the scenes – from the first coach who looked after lads like Ben at 12 years old, to everyone involved all the way through the system.
“The club’s in a great place. What the Robinson family have done here is amazing.
“What hasn’t changed is my passion for the club and with Nigel Clough coming in that is fantastic for the Academy. When you see the manager coming and watching the 18s after only two days in the building, you know the young lads will get opportunities.
“Whoever comes in now I can tell them there’s a great group of lads from the age of nine and the Academy is in a good place, superb staff, a great environment. I’m not leaving with a sad heart but a joyful one as I’m very proud of what has been achieved.”
Burton Albion chairman Ben Robinson said: "I want to thank Mike for the way he has led the Academy through an important period for the club. We are grateful for all his hard work on behalf of Burton Albion. We will now be looking for a new Academy Manager who can build on the achievements of Mike and his team."