April 18, 2024

“To have two ex-Charlton players who have come through our academy system in Gareth Southgate’s senior squad, just before the European Championships, is a great achievement,” Steve Avory, the director of the academy, said.

Avory is, of course, referring to Addicks academy graduates Joe Gomez and Ezri Konsa, both of whom are included in England’s 23-man squad for friendlies against Brazil and Belgium at Wembley Stadium on Saturday and Tuesday.

“I feel proud for everybody here really because we have two lads in the England squad that came through our system,” he said. “If both of them appear on the pitch at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday, I’ll be even more proud; that would be amazing. I’ll be happy for either or both of them if they play against Brazil on Saturday.”

Gomez, who returns to Southgate’s team for the first time since 2020 after an impressive season with Liverpool, has already won 11 caps for the Three Lions, while Konsa will want to make his international debut in his second senior camp with England.


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Avory recalls the duo’s experiences through the club’s prestigious academy, stating: “There’s a minor difference in terms of age groups. For example, Joe would have been an U17 if Ezri had been an U16. There is only a five-month age difference – Joe is somewhat older – and they were both pushed by moving into older age groups.

“You just recognize you’ve got two really talented defenders who fit the profile we were seeking for, being able to play as centre-backs or anywhere along the back line. When they first came through the system, they were both playing centre back.

“There were slight differences between the two of them in terms of their character, for sure,” he said. “Ezri always appeared to be a technically competent player because he played a lot of midfield at school, more than Joe.


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“Joe has always played in that back four. Both of them were great youth football players, and they both made the England U18s, with Ezri going on to win the World Cup.”

Charlton fans may help the academy by joining the Valley Gold program. Valley Gold allows fans to help the club’s academy discover tomorrow’s stars while also having the opportunity to win cash prizes.


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