SOUTHEND United legend Adam Barrett is enjoying helping the area’s budding young footballers to follow in his footsteps.

Barrett - who made 354 appearances for the Shrimpers - set up his PFA Academy back in 2013.

And the former centre-back is thrilled to see it still flourishing with several players being snapped up by Blues, whose Barrett’s academy have just played against us.

“One or two always slip through the net and if we can give them the training and guidance they need before being spotted by Southend or another club then that’s fantastic,” said Barrett, who is now first team coach at Millwall.

“Everyone knows my links to the area and to Southend United so if we can get players through to go there then it’s great.

“We’ve had a few make the move already and there were another couple of players they were interested in from the matches we played the other night as well.”

The PFA Academy took on the Shrimpers at under-10, 11 and 12 age-groups and they will soon be facing other professional clubs.

“We have games against Charlton and Millwall coming up which will be good and we’re really pleased with how everything is going,” said Barrett, who grew up supporting Blues.

“We’ve had other boys go to Chelsea, Tottenham and West Ham and we have a really good team of coaches in place.

“It’s obviously hard for me with my responsibilities at Millwall now but we’re in a really strong place.”

Steve Tilson - Barrett’s former manager at Roots Hall - also coaches within the academy along with ex-Wycombe Wanderers and Scunthorpe United striker Paul Hayes.

And Barrett is delighted with the work being done.

“We have Tilly and Paul Hayes in which is great and Ian Peterson heads it all up who is a fantastic young coach doing a brilliant job,” said Barrett.

“We have young George Gray too who is a good coach too so it’s a good team and I’m happy with how it’s going.

“The training sessions are always packed and above all else we make sure they’re enjoyable.

“That’s what matters most at a young age.

“But if boys do go on and do well then that’s great and we do all we can to help them by running things as professionally as we can.”

The PFA Academy holds regular training sessions at the Len Forge Centre in Southend and Cedar Hall School in Thundersley.

The coaching is open for youngsters aged between five and 15 and more sessions will soon be starting at the Eversley Leisure Centre in Basildon every Friday night.

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