Tony Carr: The man who drove the Academy of Football forward for 40 years
One of West Ham United’s greatest servants celebrates his 69th birthday today.
Tony Carr MBE spent 41 years leading the Academy of Football, overseeing the recruitment and development of dozens of the biggest talents English football produced during that period.
Appointed as director of youth development at the age of just 23 in 1973, Carr guided the young Hammers to FA Youth Cup glory in 1981 and 1999 – the latter a record 9-0 thrashing of Coventry City in the final – and numerous other league titles and trophies.
Fulfilling the roles of manager, coach, mentor, administrator and many others besides, Carr was instrumental in the nurturing of future England captains Paul Ince, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard Jr and John Terry, along with fellow Three Lions stars Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Alvin Martin, Tony Cottee, Jermain Defoe and Glen Johnson.
In his final years as Academy Director, the likes of Mark Noble, Jack Collison, James Tomkins, Anton Ferdinand, Junior Stanislas and Freddie Sears all graduated to the first team and played Premier League football for the Hammers.
In 2009, Carr’s achievements were recognised in the shape of star-studded Testimonial match played at the Boleyn Ground, where dozens of Academy graduates were joined by former West Ham favourite Paolo Di Canio and took on then-manager Gianfranco Zola’s first-team squad in front of nearly 20,000 supporters.
The following year, 2010, Carr was made an MBE in Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his services to football.
His influential book 'How to Coach a Soccer Team' has been published on a number of occasions and is still used widely by coaches across the footballing spectrum.
After taking up an ambassadorial role, Carr’s 43 years of service to the Hammers came to an end in 2016, but his contribution to the history of West Ham United and the Academy of Football will never be forgotten.
And earlier this year he was back at Chadwell Heath, joining his successor Terry Westley and the Tombides family at the opening of a new Learning Centre named in honour of late Academy striker Dylan.
Everyone at the Club would like to wish Tony a very happy birthday!