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Crocker to return to Southampton as director of football operations

Matt Crocker is to return to Southampton to take up a role as director of football operations.

Ross Wilson left his position with the Saints earlier this season to join Scottish side Rangers as sporting director.

Crocker, who is head of development team coaching at the Football Association, will start work with Southampton in early 2020.

Before moving to the FA in 2013, Crocker had spent seven years at Southampton helping to oversee the club’s academy and pathway into the first team during a period that saw the emergence of players like Gareth Bale, Luke Shaw and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Crocker’s remit is to include “the development of every aspect of its football operations, and develop every department that supports all of the club’s teams,” a statement from Southampton read.

Southampton’s chief executive officer Martin Semmens said: “Matt was the outstanding candidate in Europe for this role, head and shoulders above anyone else, as he brings deep experience and knowledge to the club, but also a history with ‘The Southampton Way’.

“As head of development teams at the FA, Matt was responsible for elite player and coach pathways through all teams and was one of the key architects of the England DNA project.

“This created a framework and culture that has led to the success we see today through all age groups with the national team.

“This experience and knowledge will help our club develop further our excellent track record in player and coach development, and give us the best opportunity to be successful now and in the future.

“We are convinced this appointment will lead to greater success on the pitch in the future and will help bring back the true ‘Southampton Way’ with a fresh and innovative leader in charge of our football operations.”

Semmens added: “The Southampton Way is at the very core of everything we do here at the club, with a strong focus on our player pathway into the first team.

“For our club to be successful going into the next decade, within an increasingly competitive Premier League, we must seek to strengthen our pathway and further develop every detail of our football operation.”

The FA’s technical director Les Reed hopes Crocker can continue to help bring through young English talent at club level.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to test himself in the Premier League and a challenge he has aspired to for some time,” said Reed, who previously held roles of head of football development and later vice-chairman at Southampton before leaving the club during November 2018.

“I wish him and Southampton well and I am sure his new role will also have a benefit for England teams in the years to come.

“He will always be welcome at St George’s Park, where I am very excited about the performance-focused team we are developing in order to achieve future success.”