Small spaces and an Alex Hunt Lake District revelation – Sheffield United youth coach unsurprised with Sheffield Wednesday youngster progress
He might be working down the road at Sheffield United now, but Danny Cadamarteri admits that he’s not surprised to see so many Sheffield Wednesday youngster around the first team.
Wednesday have played 13 academy graduates across all competitions over the course of the season, and Cadamarteri had a role to play in the upbringing of many of them during his days as a youth coach at Middlewood Road.
Having worked with the likes of Liam Shaw, Liam Waldock, Declan Thompson and other emerging players such as Charlie Reaney, the former Everton attacker thinks that their environment has helped their development.
Speaking to The Star not long after his son, Bailey, scored a hattrick for the Owls’ U18s, Cadamarteri said, “I worked with a lot of them over the years… I was involved with plenty of them, and they’re good footballers - I think the philosophy that they have at Sheffield Wednesday promotes that, in terms of playing through the thirds.
“It’s quite well documented that they don’t have much space at their training facilities, and there is a pro and a con to that.
“The con is that they don’t get too much contact time on the grass in terms of big areas, but the pro is that they work in small spaces and that promotes good football. They have quick players and quick thinkers - they’ve got good players within their academy system at the moment, I’ve been disappointed to see a few of them leave.”
But there was one player that really stood out for the ex-Toffees forward, with Alex Hunt managing to impress him not just with his ability, but also his determination to succeed.
“I think Alex Hunt deserves a special mention,” he explained. “Purely because of his ability to overcome difficult situations.
“He was a late developer and everybody kind of looked at him and said he was probably going to be too small.
“But technically he was a very, very good footballer, and his ability to show resilience has seen him through.”
So when teenage Hunt was on the cusp of two sides, and they weren’t sure where to put him, the talented midfielder stepped up to the plate and made their decision for them.
Cadamarteri recalled, “We took him on a preseason camp and wasn’t sure if he’d be in the U18s that year or the U16s because he was quite slight, but on that tour to the Lake District he was unbelievable. His mentality, his resilience, his athleticism – he was superb, and we ended up making him captain of the youth team because of that.
“I think he just needs the opportunity to kick on now at the club and get more games, and hopefully they get a few more players through as well.”
Hunt, like many others, could well benefit from Darren Moore’s arrival at Hillsborough and his reputation for taking youngsters to that next level, although as things stand his contract will expire at the end of the season.
Wednesday do have a one-year option, though, and are expected to exercise that before the current campaign is over.