Leeds United have officially confirmed Paul Hart’s return to the club as their Academy director – almost two decades after his highly-successful first spell in the job.
Former Leeds defender Hart enjoyed a glittering spell in charge of United’s then fledgling Academy in the early 1990s, developing the likes of Jonathan Woodgate, Alan Smith, Harry Kewell, Paul Robinson and Stephen McPhail, all part of the squad that won the 1997 FA Youth Cup – many of whom went on to play a part in the club’s run to the 2001 Champions League semi-finals.
Hart now returns for a second spell where he will effectively replace outgoing Academy director Neil Redfearn.
Hart, 62, will oversee the entire Academy set-up at Thorp Arch as well as taking charge of an Under-21s side that have won their last two games.
Hart will be supported in the role by Adam Underwood as Academy manager with Daral Pugh appointed head of coaching and focusing on the under-9s to 16s age groups.
John Anderson has been named Under-18s coach alongside Jason Blunt with Andy Gray appointed as Under-16s coach.
Hart began work at Thorp Arch on Friday, with both his appointment and confirmation of the structure beneath him music to the ears of United’s executive director Adam Pearson.
“We are delighted to welcome Paul Hart back to the club,” Pearson told the club’s official website.
“Paul was an outstanding leader of the Academy in the past and he has a wealth of experience to develop not only our young players but what is now a talented group of young coaches.
“We have recruited three fine new coaches in John Anderson, Andy Gray and Daral Pugh.
“They are all good characters who I know well and who will really strengthen what is already a strong coaching team.
“We have some fine talent in the Academy with recruitment expert Terry Potter continuing to unearth talent and we are delighted that Paul is returning to head up what is now a very strong Academy set-up.”
Hart left Thorp Arch to enjoy more success with Nottingham Forest’s Academy, aiding the development of the likes of Jermaine Jenas, David Prutton, Andy Reid and Michael Dawson before going on to become first-team boss.
But he’ll step into the Leeds Academy role with big boots to fill, with Sam Byram, Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt, Charlie Taylor and Kalvin Phillips all recent graduates under Redfearn.