Morling's pride in youngsters' rapid progress

Academy manager John Morling expressed his immense pride at the rapid rise of Aaron Connolly and Steven Alzate to the first team this season, and highlighted the important role which a number of people have played in aiding their development.

By James Hilsum • 30 October 2019

John Morling with Aaron Connolly and Steven Alzate at the Premier League Debut Balls presentation.

In a recent interview with independent football radio show, Albion Roar, Morling spoke glowingly about Connolly’s successful progress to the first-team set-up in particular, and was delighted to see the young Irishman accomplish several milestones in quick succession.

He said, “It’s brilliant, and when you work in youth development, that’s the best feeling you can have, because they are moments which money can’t buy.

“Whether that’s a senior debut, a first appearance for their country, or when they score their first goal, whatever it may be, it’s a massive thing and a very proud moment for the player and his family.”


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Connolly: It hasn't sunk in yet!

Morling explained that a number of different people can take credit for guiding both players to the highest level, including those at their previous clubs.

“It is very satisfying for all the staff that have played a part in the players' journeys. The under-23s, under-18s and under-16s staff all had a role in Aaron’s development, whereas Steven spent his time with the under-23s.

“There is a big team of staff around the players and they all play a varying part. Obviously there are the coaches, but there is also the medical, strength and conditioning, player care and education staff that are involved too. Then there are the psychologists, analysts and the families that have hosted them in digs.

“The aforementioned staff are just at Brighton’s academy. If you take someone like Aaron or Steven, there are staff at their previous clubs who have all played a part. A lot of people would have been involved in their development who will take a lot of satisfaction in that.”

By Paul Hazlewood
Aaron Connolly with Glenn Murray.

With both now first-team squad regulars, Morling highlighted the important role which the likes of Bruno, Glenn Murray and the senior pros will also play.

“Aaron has moved up to the first team full-time now with Graham and his staff, and Bruno, in particular, will be a big influence in terms of looking after him day to day. Part of Bruno’s job is to nurture and keep an eye on some of the younger players and help them with their transition to the first team.

“In that sense, you can’t have anyone better to look after you. We’ve also got a great set of senior players, and it was brilliant to watch Aaron and Glenn walk off the pitch together at Bristol Rovers. You can tell they’ve got a good relationship, which is vital for a young player’s education, as you need to have a good set of strong personalities in the changing room, which we have, that will help to guide him in the right direction.

“From Aaron and Steven’s perspective, it’s important that they want to continue learning and listening. As long as they do that they will keep getting better.”

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