Gareth Jennings officially returned to the Club recently
LIFE HAS turned full circle for Gareth Jennings with his appointment as our new Academy Director.
Back in the late 1980s Jennings was an aspiring young player who had worked his way through the youth ranks at the Club to become a regular on the reserve team scene at the Victoria Ground.
Now, more than three decades on, he boasts an impressive coaching CV and has been charged with the job of heading up the development of youngsters with the same hopes and dreams he once had himself.
Jennings, who took up his new role earlier this month, told #pottersmag: “I was brought up in Staffordshire, in Rugeley to be precise, and my parents still live in the county so I’ve strong ties with the area and the Club.
“I was here as a young player. I signed as a schoolboy before turning professional and have always had an affinity with the Club – so much so that the chance to come back was too good an opportunity to turn down.
“I was in a similar role at Leicester and although they won the Premier League title last season and are playing Champions League football, I was still drawn towards Stoke City …it was too much to resist.”
Jennings played Central League football for the Potters and was also capped by England at Under-19 level during his time at the Vic.
“I was here under Tony Lacey and the manager who signed me was Alan Ball. It’s quite ironic that Alan’s son Jimmy is now working in the Academy.
“My career has gone full circle and I’m very much looking forward to getting stuck into my new role as Academy Director.”
As well as Leicester, Jennings has also held key youth development roles at Bristol City and Oxford United and is looking to bring that experience to bear on our Academy, which shares the same Clayton Wood base as the first team.
“I’ve worked at Category Three, Two and One clubs and feel that has given me a well-rounded view on youth development,” he adds. “I also worked outside of football for a short period of time with Wigan Warriors in rugby league.
“The facilities at the Club are fantastic – I was really impressed when I was first shown around the training ground.
“The impression that people get when they drive up to Clayton Wood must be a massive positive in terms of recruiting players both for the first team and Academy. It’s a good place to come to work with good people.”
Chief Executive Tony Scholes on announcing Jennings’ appointment said: “We had a number of high-quality applicants for the role of Academy director but Gareth really stood out.
“He has a big reputation in the game but importantly he knows all about Stoke City as a club and also the city of Stoke-on-Trent itself having been born and raised in Staffordshire. Gareth also knows what is expected of a Category One Academy from his time at Leicester City.
“We’re delighted to have him on board and feel we can look forward to the future with great confidence.”