Tony Carr MBE is one of the most influential figures in English football. It is not just that seven of the England squad that travelled to the 2010 FIFA World Cup have come under his guidance - Glen Johnson, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole and Jermain Defoe - but because he is committed to the grassroots of the game. For four decades he has given back to the sport after seeing his own playing dreams dashed by injury and he has created an outstanding legacy.
In March 2009, Premier League club West Ham United confirmed the Academy Director would be rewarded for his 36 years of long and outstanding service with a testimonial year in 2009/10. That match on 5 May 2010 saw the likes of Ferdinand and Lampard return to the Boleyn Ground for an all-star match in Carr's honour.
It is not just his work for the club though that deserves special mention. He is a tireless worker for charity - not least for youngsters with diabetes. Three years ago, Carr was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. After learning to live with the condition and proving it should be no barrier to a healthy and active life, Carr has been involved with a number of awareness events.
It is at West Ham United though where Carr's impact has been most keenly felt. Having played a major role over three decades and more, the club believed the time was right to recognise and pay tribute to the achievements of a man who began as an apprentice at the club in the 1960s cleaning Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst's boots.
He started coaching youngsters in 1973, after injury had forced him to give up on his own playing dreams, and by 1980 he was full-time and well on the way to relishing the opportunity to putting his own stamp on the famous Academy.
From Ron Greenwood to Avram Grant, manager after manager at the Boleyn Ground has felt the benefit of Carr's unstinting commitment to excellence and developing the stars of tomorrow. The aim is to produce well-rounded individuals that understand all aspects of the 'West Ham way'. While Carr always acknowledges the support and expertise of the valued team he has built up around him, his individual efforts deserve recognition.
The production line never stops and Carr can point to several players in the current West Ham United first-team picture that have come under his charge, led by England Under-21 midfielder Mark Noble. Behind him have followed the recently-emerged quartet of James Tomkins, Jack Collison, Junior Stanislas and Zavon Hines - who all had key roles last season.
The Bow-born Carr, who now lives with his family in Essex, knows only too well how precious a life in football can be and his wisdom and emphasis on producing players who enjoy the game first and foremost is appreciated by all. As more and more global attention has focused on the Academy as a renowned centre of excellence for youth development, he has never changed his outlook or principles.
While this commitment to nurturing local prospects is as strong as ever, Carr is just as likely to be found now putting some of the continent's brightest players through their paces, jetting off to the US on a major coaching seminar or leading a delegation to world-renowned clubs to share information. The point is that, like the production line he oversees, the Academy director has no intention of slowing down.