talkSPORT is airing a special documentary at 9pm tonight on the rise of South London as the new hotbed of English football.
The station spoke to leading coaches, players, managers and pundits on why this small area of the UK is producing some of the most exciting players in football. At a time when ⅔ of the French World Cup team came from Greater Paris, the station explores why city district areas harness and create a desire in young footballers to make it.
Commenting on the documentary, Head of talkSPORT, Lee Clayton said: “This programme is a unique piece of content that is a stand out part of a recent series of documentaries on talkSPORT. It explores the social environment players of South London grow up in and how that impacts the competitiveness, style and confidence that separates the South London Talent Factory from players across the country. With fresh insight from those closest to this talent pipeline, it’s a compelling listen.”
Daren Lewis explained how changes in the coaching system has helped South London’s players: “In the past there was a wealth of players, the problem back then was they were seen through one dimension but they weren’t seen as leaders, there was a ludicrous misconception that the players could not play in the cold. The players back then had to deal with horrendous racism and it broke some players. It took a special kind of courage and character and not all of the talented players back then survived the game, a lot walked away became agents or became coaches or left the game altogether. Now players owe a huge debt of gratitude to those players back then.”
“Until not long ago you had to go high up the pyramid for players to come into contact with black coaches. With some coaches there is a willingness to write off players - but empathising goes a hell of a long way. A connection has been made between players and coaches to enable them to fulfil their potential.”
Simon Jordan explained how offensive football has been embraced: "The talent pool coming out of South London has a certain uniqueness - they have more substance than previous generations - the way the game has changed to embrace offensive football has given these people a chance - talent, flair and front foot players are now given more opportunities.”
David Powderly England Under 16 coach said: ”The decision makers are recognising these are the players we need to bring in. Once they are in it’s not about stripping that down, it’s about harnessing what they have and allowing that to continue. The players can make it for who they are. We need players that are comfortable when they are playing against Portugal or Brazil, who think don’t worry about it we’ve got this, we’re from South London.”
Former England boss and Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson discussed why there are so many talented youngsters from South London: “There’s conurbations in the country where there’s a lot of kids growing up dreaming of being footballers, being introduced to street football or playing in those cages, where its not structured in any way. It’s just a question of enjoying the game, getting a feel of the ball, and honing the basic skills. A more important factor is the strength of South London clubs and the quality and strength of their Academies and their scouting systems. If you have any talent in an area around where we are the chances are you are going to be given a chance.”
Dulwich Hamlet FC’s manager, Gavin Rose said: “The passion for a boy from a poverty background can’t be matched - it’s a ticket to get out of here. The FA are opening the doors now, because they are saying if we don’t take these sorts of boys, we’re not going to have any talent. Boys from South London don’t just want to run through brick walls, they want to express themselves.”
Presented by Jordan Jarrett-Bryan, the one hour special airs at 9pm on talkSPORT tonight and includes insight from Roy Hodgson, Wilfried Zaha, Arsene Wenger, Ian Wright, Clinton Morrison, Simon Jordan, Tammy Abraham, Darren Lewis and others. It will be available to listen to as a podcast from 10pm on the talkSPORT Premier League preview show feed.