Sydney's new Academy Director: Sky Blues should be every young player's dream

As revealed my FourFourTwo earlier this month, assistant national technical director Kelly Cross has left Football Federation Australia to head up Sydney FC’s new academy.

The Sky Blues officially announced the appointment on Monday.

Cross, one of Australian football’s most successful producers of young talent, will be the club’s new Academy Director as the A-League outfit heads in a bold new direction.

"One of the club's ambitions is that every young player dreams of playing for Sydney FC," Cross said.

"Part of that is that the Sydney FC first team is an exciting team and it's bold and it's ambitious.

"What the academy will add is relationships with all clubs, or as many as possible across the city of Sydney and beyond, so that not only is there an expectation that players come to Sydney FC, but those players, their families and those clubs, buy into the Sydney FC vision."

Cross is expected to take up the role once his current job as the FFA’s Assistant National Technical Director is completed.

He said he is excited by the challenge of producing the next generation of Sydney FC players.

“The club’s plans to develop Australia’s leading elite football academy are second to none and I’m looking forward to getting started,” he said.

“Sydney FC will lead the way in providing talented young players with an elite pathway to aspire to become professional footballers, and hopefully future Socceroos.”

He added: "What I'm excited about with the club is that is has a clear philosophy and clear vision for the future and is prepared to invest the long-term development of players.

"I'm excited that the right talent is identified and developed in the right way to maximise the chances of Sydney FC's success and that the players will also reach their ambitions and play for the national team."

Cross is Australia’s only FIFA Coaching Instructor and the country’s only Pro Licence Instructor.

He is also Deputy Chairman of the Technical Committee of the Asian Football Confederation and is a member of FIFA’s global list of Strategic Consultants.

Chief Executive Officer Tony Pignata believes the appointment of Cross as Academy Director is a major coup for the club.

“Kelly has a proven track record of producing players of the highest quality and we are delighted to welcome him on board,” he said.

“Sydney FC’s Academy is one of the central pillars of our strategy moving forward and will only serve to deepen the relationship Sydney FC has with community football.”

Cross, who was heavily involved in developing FFA’s football philosophy and National Curriculum, will have a key role in establishing and implementing Sydney FC’s long-term philosophy, playing style and youth training program.

His experience in educating and mentoring many of Australia’s top coaches will be valuable as he is keen to identify and train a team of first-class youth coaches who can bring the Sydney philosophy to life.

“To have secured someone with Kelly’s calibre and experience shows how crucial we believe this Academy to be. His knowledge of world football and overseas youth development is incredible and can only help bring about future long-term success for the club,” Pignata added.

Cross comes to Sydney FC with a wealth of experience, having helped the likes of Harry Kewell, Brett Emerton and Jason Culina develop into Socceroos during his time as Head Coach of the NSW Institute of Sport and Football Director at Westfields Sports High School.

 He also had a role to play in forging careers for a further 30 players in the national team and as professional footballers, including Archie Thompson, David Carney, Brett Holman and Luke Wilkshire.

Having also worked as the FFA’s Head of Coach Education between 2006 and 2013, he is credited with having increased the standard of Hyundai A-League coaching during that time, with the likes of Tony Popovic, Mike Mulvey, Phil Moss and Rado Vidosic all coming under his tuition.

FFA Head of National Performance Luke Casserly thanked Cross for his influence on the game at a national level.

“FFA would like to thank Kelly Cross for the tremendous contribution to football over the last eight years, especially in relation to the implementation of key coach education programs and the National Football Curriculum. We wish him all the best in his new role at Sydney FC,” Casserly said.

PIC: Sydney FC