The owner behind the youngest team in Europe: "Why should under-19 teams stay in five-star hotels? Kids shouldn't be treated like Premier League players"

5 July 2020

Tom Vernon
Photo: PR: FC Nordsjaelland FC Nordsjaelland owner Tom Vernon is running the Danish club's academy in a different way than most other clubs. "We know that our players need to visit the different academies around the world. It gives them so much to go to another country and meet with something completely different than what they are used to. When they have tried that on a number of occasions, then suddenly it is not that hard for a 20-year-old talent to move to Holland and perform in the Eredivisie," said Vernon.

Tom Vernon is the owner of Danish club FC Nordsjaelland (FCN), who are playing with the youngest team in Europe. The former Manchester United scout is concerned about the lack of true values and character building at talent academies.

Besides the ownership of FCN, he also runs "The Right To Dream Academy" in Ghana. After five years of hard work to find the right model, he is now close to the next phase of his vision: to launch academies all over the world.

Compared to most other clubs, Vernon is running the academies in Ghana and Denmark differently. He is seeking a culture where football skills are important, but not more important than academic education.

Every summer, bigger clubs are buying the best players from FCN, but they always succeed in replacing them with extremely talented young players. Vernon knows why - and the recipe is simple.

The story of the work being done at FC Nordsjaelland and The Right To Dream Academy will be published in two chapters - this is the first.

Kasper Kronenberg kk@offthepitch.com

They caught the eye of most observers of European football when they were branded by the CIES Football Observatory as the "Youngest Team in Europe" for the second year in a row. FC Nordsjaelland (FCN), the Danish Superliga side located 20 kilometres north of Copenhagen in Farum, fielded the youngest line-up of the 31 European top-division leagues surveyed: the average player being just 21.36 years old.

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