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13:00 2nd February 2016

by James Baldwin

Youth Development Officer signed many of City's Under-18s squad

NORWICH City's long-serving Youth Development Officer Colin Watts will have more reason to be proud than most when Graeme Murty's youngsters face Middlesbrough in the FA Youth Cup fifth round at Carrow Road on Wednesday (7pm).

The Canaries' current Under-18s contingent contains seven players signed by Colin, of which five were discovered from sides across East Anglia at Under-9 level.

Speaking exclusively to, he said: "This group has a number of players who I've been lucky enough to introduce to the Club.

"It's especially pleasing that many of them are local boys who have been with the Club since the age of nine. To see them step out at Carrow Road, even at this level, will be a special feeling for me. 

Colin Watts City U9s embed

"Hosting Academy games here is always a lovely occasion because the local crowd get behind the team. That support makes a genuine difference, as we've seen with the Under-21s.

"Hopefully we can get a large crowd because it really lifts the players and often raises their game to that extra level. The boys will have come here as fans in the past, so this is a big moment for them."

Colin Watts Hospital Cup

Colin's personal affiliation with the FA Youth Cup stretches back well beyond work undertaken in the recruitment capacity, having represented the Club as a player during the 1961 tournament.

That year saw City beaten 5-0 at Highbury by an Arsenal side featuring George Armstrong, Bobby Gould, Jon Sammels and Peter Simpson - the quartet going on to make in excess of 1,000 senior Gunners appearances between them.

Set to mark 25 years with the Canaries in June this year, Colin has since played a significant part in the development of numerous professionals, including Craig Bellamy, Robert Green and Chris Martin.

Meanwhile, he also persuaded current goalkeeper Declan Rudd to try out between the sticks after the Diss-born stopper initially trialled unsuccessfully with designs of becoming an outfield player as a youngster.

More recently, many of the historic 2013 FA Youth Cup winning squad were brought into the Academy setup by Colin at a young age, before being nurtured into a side capable of lifting the prestigious trophy.

Colin Watts Colney embed

"To reach the Final in 2013 was a fantastic achievement, because 400 teams enter the competition, and to then win against Chelsea over two legs was magnificent," he explained.

"It was particularly pleasing for me because eight of the squad were boys I'd either signed or introduced to the Club. I felt very, very proud of that and this time around we have similar numbers who have been here a long time.

"The FA Youth Cup has been very good to me. I've been very lucky to be paid to do a job I love doing, and have had some incredible experiences from that."

Tickets for the game are priced at £2 for adults and 50p for under-17s, and can be purchased ONLINE, by phone on 0844 826 1902 and from the ticket offices at Carrow Road, Castle Mall and Chapelfield.  

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