I am an ex-professional Footballer with a passion for youth development and helping aspiring young players enjoy the beautiful game and realise their true potential.

Youth Football

My Football journey began in a similar way to many other children – in the local streets, parks and fields close to my family home. Aged 8-11 years old I played for Darlington Spraire Lads and gained some fantastic experiences. From age 11 I signed to Middlesbrough FC Academy and spent the next decade progressing through the school boy age groups to sign scholarship forms when I left school, and later signing professional terms at 18 years old. After being part of the FA Youth Cup winning team in 2004 I made my Premier League debut in 2006 against Fulham in a historical game at Craven Cottage. I was just 19 years old at the time and the Middlesbrough team that day was the youngest in Premier League history. It was also the first time a Football club had taken to the field with 11 players that had come through their academy. Proudly, every player in that team was born in the north east within a 25 mile radius of the Riverside Stadium.

Professional Football

After making a further 6 first team appearances I was transferred to Luton Town in 2009. During that period from 2006 – 2009, when I was trying so hard to establish myself as a Premier League Footballer I strongly believe that if I had experienced a different type of coaching as a youngster, such as Futsal, alongside the excellent coaching at my Football clubs then I would have progressed further. The 2 years I spent at Luton Town were highlighted by assisting and scoring a goal in the Football League Trophy final at Wembley Stadium in front of 75,000 fans. Another transfer followed, this time to Oxford United before a move to Portsmouth. However, it was at the start of my time at Portsmouth that I had a career ending knee injury and the journey to starting this academy began.


During my injury rehabilitation I completed a degree in BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science and began to acquire my coaching badges. I currently hold the UEFA A Licence, FA Advanced Youth Award and Futsal Level 2 coaching qualifications. Additionally, I am a qualified Physical Education teacher having completed a PGCE and gained qualified teacher status. Gaining these qualifications took approximately 5 years worth of studying and personal development. Therefore, I believe I am well placed to oversee a coaching programme that develops technically able and tactically aware Footballers, especially given my added experience as a Professional Footballer.

The Academy

I have spent many hours thinking and wondering about how my ability could have been better when I was a Professional Footballer and it is these thoughts that motivated me into forming the academy. I strongly believe that if I was exposed to an environment similar to Tom Craddock Football Academy as a youngster it would have been of massive benefit to the rest of my football education at my grassroots club, and at Middlesbrough as I grew into a Premier League Footballer.

The formation of this academy is the fulfilment of an ambition I set out several years ago. I cannot wait to pass my knowledge and experience on to the next generation of young Footballers!

Mission Statement

We strive to develop technical ability and tactical awareness in physically competent Football players who think independently and adapt quickly to challenging situations on the field of play. Whilst providing a safe and enjoyable learning environment that allows young people to display their personality and fully express themselves, we place high value on the development of strong social and psychological characteristics.

Academy Vision

To deliver high quality developmental coaching that provides aspiring young players with an opportunity to improve technical, tactical and physical aspects of their Football ability. We want to see players progress through the academy having gained skills they will hold onto for the rest of their life both on and off the field.