Crewe have struggled financially for longer than they care to remember, but instead of letting themselves fade away into obscurity, the club have built a proud tradition of bringing high quality players through their academy and youth channels. The system was largely down to the exceptional attitude of the brilliant Dario Gradi, who managed the club for the best part of twenty years, and oversaw the building of some exceptional careers. Crewe have always had to sell their best youngsters to keep themselves thriving as a club, and the money earned has allowed them to build some great youth facilities.
On 27th May 2012, Alex. won the playoff final against Cheltenham, to return to League 1, with an incredible 9 of their starting 11 products of their academy. Crewe are an example to follow for lower league strugglers. Below, we’ve listed some of the best young players to come through the ranks at Crewe in recent years, you might be surprised at the calibre of some of them.
Nick Powell – the latest, much talked about youngster to find his way to the first team, this young lad has drawn a huge amount of attention from the Premier League, and has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester United.
David Vaughan – The Sunderland midfielder spent Seven years at Crewe as a young lad before moving on to Real Sociedad. He is currently plying his trade in the Premiership.
David Platt – Although Platt originally played for Manchester United, Dario Gradi took a chance on the lad after he had been given a free transfer. Platt went on to build an incredible career that included 62 England appearances. He is currently assistant manager at Man City.
Robbie Savage – Another ex-United trainee who got his first chance to make a professional appearance for Crewe, he played 77 games for the Alex before moving on to the top level of English football.
Neil Lennon – He did have spells at Glenavon and Man City (making just one appearance) before he joined Crewe, but he undoubtedly learned his trade at Gresty Road, and went on to play at the top level with Leicester and Celtic.
Danny Murphy – One of the premier league’s longest serving players. The ex-Liverpool man came through the ranks at Crewe.
Seth Johnson – Came through the youth system at Crewe before he moved on to Derby, and then to a big money move to Leeds. His career was tragically ended early due to injury, but not before he managed to make one appearance for his country.
Dean Ashton – Another recent youngster to come through the system. Dean’s career was also tragically ended early due to injury, after big money moves to Norwich and West Ham, Ashton was training with England when he attained the injury. Dean was set to become one of the hottest strikers in English football when he was forced to retire.