For the time being, Aston Villa are still the NextGen series holders. The European competition for U19s was first played in 2011, but two years later, just months after Villa had won it, the tournament was disbanded because of a lack of funding.
The fact remains that it was a remarkable achievement by the Villans though, who were victorious over Chelsea in the final at Lake Como in Italy back in April 2013.
En route, they beat a pedigreed Ajax team, as well as defeating Olympiacos and Sporting Lisbon. However, in 2019, there is just one survivor from that triumphant youth side; Jack Grealish. Not only has Villa’s senior side deteriorated, but so has their youth set up.
The fact that only one player has made it into the first team should be alarming, but in the modern game, it’s hardly a surprise. With that in mind, here’s a look at the team that started and some of the players that played their part.
The midfielder was one of the brightest players to come through the Villa youth setup at the time, having made a move from Arsenal in 2009.
He was, in fact, the victorious captain who held the trophy aloft in Como, but unfortunately for the now 26-year-old, that’s pretty much as got as its got. He would go on to make just three first team appearances, initially making his debut against Liverpool.
A loan spell with MK Dons followed for the midfielder before he then joined them permanently in 2014. He achieved promotion from League One with the Dons but was then sold to Sheffield United.
Carruthers has now spent three years with the Blades, but after failing to really nail down a place, has spent the current term on loan at Oxford United.
For someone who was held in such high regard, his fall has been disappointing.
Aston Villa’s key man and star striker was Burke. He finished the NextGen series as top scorer, notching seven goals on his way to helping the Villans lift the trophy. The forward also happened to be the hero in the final, scoring two penalties.
Given his goals record, he should have been a player ready to make a breakthrough at senior level but that wasn’t the case as he made just two appearances for the club when Paul Lambert was in charge.
The Irishman hasn’t gone on to realise his full potential but he has enjoyed a solid career to date. He made his international debut for the Republic of Ireland in 2018 and now finds himself on loan at Gillingham from Preston.
Burke’s path after Villa saw him join Notts County before enjoying a prolific spell with Shamrock Rovers where he scored 21 in 45.
Lyden only left Villa in March 2019 when the Midlands side decided to release him but he was one of the youngsters to feature among the substitutes in the final all those years ago.
The Australian played a part in the first team in the 2015/16 campaign when they were relegated from the Premier League but he would only appear eight times over numerous years before moving on.
Unfortunately for Lyden, his career has been hampered by injury and had it not been for repeated spells on the treatment table, the midfielder may have been able to make more of an impact.
The 23-year-old represents one of many what ifs from this NextGen side.
Another substitute in the final was Dan Crowley, who after that game soon made a move to Arsenal. He made no first team appearances for either club, despite possessing a similar style to Jack Wilshere.
Crowley has since earned himself a bad boy attitude in England, falling out with various people including the manager when he was at Oxford United.
The talented midfielder is still only 21 but has forged a career for himself out in the Netherlands. He now plays for Willem II in the Eredivisie where he’s scored an impressive five goals and claimed seven assists this term.
Out of everyone in Villa’s NextGen winning team, Crowley is arguably the best youngster to have escaped the club’s grasp.