Petrillo: Academy continues to go from strength to strength

City’s Academy has been a production line of talent for Australia’s national teams for years now, and that trend doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

Midfield young gun Connor Metcalfe in June made his Socceroos debut, doing so in the same game as Denis Genreau after the pair spent years coming through the ranks of City’s Academy together.

The duo joined Daniel Arzani as City Academy products to have represented Australia at senior level - and looking at the recent Olyroos Olympics squad - you’d imagine there will be plenty more in years to come.

“It's fantastic for us to have so many of our Academy products playing for the national team,” City Director of Football Michael Petrillo said.

“It's one thing to play for us, but our objective is to produce players that can go beyond that and the A-Leagues to represent national teams at various ages and maybe even have a career overseas, if that's what they aspire to.

“It was fantastic to see Connor get his chance and even Denis too who now is playing in France. Having players come through our Academy to play for the Socceroos speaks volumes of the program that we provide.”

The Olyroos shocked the world at the Tokyo Olympics by taking down Argentina 2-1 thanks to goals from City jet Marco Tilio and former City winger Lachie Wales. Unfortunately, the results didn’t continue in that vein, but the squad with a heavy City influence still did itself proud.

Seven of the players in the starting XI that night had been through the doors of City Football Academy – including four that came directly through the Club’s Academy pathway. In the squad, City had a hand in the development of nine of the 22 players.

“To have so many Olyroo representatives, and for them to do really well at that level is a big tick for our Academy," Petrillo said.

We are very proud of the fact that we are producing these players for the national teams.

We’ve seen that progression up close recently too – with Academy graduates Nathaniel Atkinson and Stefan Colakovski, along with young Marco Tilio, all playing big roles in our Finals campaign and run to our first A-League Men’s Championship.

Petrillo noted that not only is this a great sign for the Club, but it also gives hope to our current Academy players that with hard work and perseverance, they too can break into the first team squad.

“It's easy to say ‘it's a strong team and I might not get a chance,’ but we've shown that if you're good enough here at Melbourne City, we’ll give you that chance,” Petrillo said.

City’s Academy has been navigating the unforeseen challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for the past 18 months, with restrictions and cancelations of seasons hampering the time coaches can spend hands on with the players.

“As much as we can do things online and the boys can do things at home on their own, it never replaces being in a team environment both in training and playing matches,” Petrillo said.

“We’re now thinking really carefully and planning every detail about how we bring them back in and what we do to try and make up for the lost time that the boys have experienced. We've got to stay positive, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure that we provide the best program we can for them once they return.”

"We are in a very privileged position here in that we can tap into world class football resources, something no other club in the A-Leagues is able to - which means we can provide world class coaching, sports science and medical resources to all of our Academy players and staff.”

Headlined by Metcalfe, Atkinson and Colakovski, City’s Men’s squad this season will feature 11 players who have come through the Club’s Academy.

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