Quick Reads

Top six clubs with most FA Youth Cup titles

Rajat Chhajta

April 28 2023
most FA Youth Cup titles

This competition has produced many world-class talents

The FA Youth Cup is an English football competition run by The Football Association for under-18 sides. Only those players between the age of 15 and 18 on 31 August of the current season are eligible to take part. This year’s winners West Ham came from a goal down to thrash Arsenal and win the FA Youth Cup for the first time since 1999.

This competition has produced many world-class talents who went on to make 200+ appearances for the senior teams across the clubs in the Premier League and Europe, including Jack Wilshere, Ryan Giggs, John Terry, and Paul Pogba to name a few examples. Let’s take a look at the top six clubs with most FA Youth Cup titles:

6. West Ham

04 titles – 1963, 1981, 1999, 2023

West Ham has now won the Youth Cup on four occasions, having also emerged victorious in 1963, 1981, and then 24 years ago when Michael Carrick and Joe Cole were part of the side that beat Coventry City 9-0 across two legs. Despite not having won this competition since 1999, West Ham came into the game as strong favourites after finishing as Premier League Under‑18 South champions.

But it was the hosts who made the brighter start when Omari Benjamin gave Jack Wilshire’s Gunners an early lead, but a magnificent George Earthy strike into the top corner pulled West Ham level. Callum Marshall converted Gideon Kodua’s fizzing cross to complete the turnaround before captain Kodua’s sensational lob over Noah Cooper made it 3-1 before the break. Kaelan Casey nodded home Ollie Scarles’ cross to make it 4-1 with 12 minutes remaining, and Josh Briggs completed the scoring in front of 34,124 fans at Emirates Stadium.

5. Aston Villa

04 titles – 1972, 1980, 2002, 2021

Aston Villa‘s youth team has a strong history in the FA Youth Cup with wins in 1972, 1980, 2002 and 2021. Villa also reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup in 2004, eventually being knocked out by eventual runners-up Chelsea. Current senior squad players Keinan Davis, Tim Iroegbunam, Jacob Ramsey, Cameron Archer, and Jaden Philogene-Bidace all came through the youth system at the club.

Notable former players to have come through the Villa academy include Jack Grealish, Brian Little, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ciaran Clark, Gary Cahill, Gareth Barry, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Darius Vassell, Marc Albrighton, Andreas Weimann, Brian McClair, and Steven Davis among many others. The most recent wins for Aston Villa came at their home ground Villa Park, where they were crowned as the 2021 FA Youth Cup champions after their 2-1 victory over Liverpool

4. Liverpool

04 titles – 1996, 2006, 2007, 2019

Liverpool F.C. Academy is considered to be one of the best and one of the most prolific football academies both in England and in the world. Various current and past Liverpool players have graduated through the academy with the likes of Billy Liddell, Ronnie Moran, Ian Callaghan, Phil Thompson, Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard, and Trent Alexander-Arnold, among many others. Their Youth academy has been unable to replicate the success of their first team but their academy is continuously working on producing the first team players.

This has not only saved big bucks for Liverpool but also made them confident to promote academy players to get first-team experience. Harvey Elliot is the latest example among the long line of such players. Last time Liverpool was in the finals of FA Youth Cup was in 2021 losing to Aston Villa in 2021.

3. Arsenal

7 titles – 1966, 1971, 1988, 1994, 2000, 2001, 2009

Arsenal were chasing FA Youth Cup this year as Gunners try to end 14-year wait. More than a decade after the club’s most recent FA Youth Cup win, Arsenal’s latest batch of youngsters had an opportunity to cover themselves in glory against West Ham but failed to do that. Arsenal have developed a reputation for bringing through young talent, which may make it surprising to some that victory in this season’s FA Youth Cup would have been their first in 14 years. However, this doesn’t mean that they are unable to promote ranks through the academy for players as they are really efficient in using homegrown talent as the best names on the bench as a substitute.

The Gunners, who have benefited from the expertise of former first-teamers Jack Wilshere and Per Mertesacker, took West Ham in the FA Youth Cup final. The under-18 side booked their place in the final with an extra-time victory over Manchester City, thanks to a winner from Myles Lewis-Skelly. Though this loss is not the end of the road as these are good signs for the Gunners that they have good management and coaches working at the helm.

2. Chelsea

9 titles – 1960, 1961, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

There’s no denying the fact that Chelsea produce some of the finest talents across Europe but fails to retain them in the club due to a lack of prospects and opportunities at the club. They have the results in the form of FA Cup wins to show for that as they had the most dominant run in the 2010’s era by winning this competition for 04 years straight, a record.

The youth players of Chelsea at this time were Isaiah Brown and Tammy Abraham following Kelechi Iheanacho’s who won it against City in 2015. Their triumph is showing their dominance at the youth level, but still, there have been no players, John Terry aside, to make an impact on the first team in recent years. Chelsea has a thing for sending world talents on loan from their youth teams and signing players from other clubs who tend to under-perform at times. Fernando Torres, Lukaku, Timo Werner to name a few.

1. Manchester United

11 titles – 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1964, 1992, 1995, 2003, 2011, 2022

Manchester United FA Youth CupManchester United won the FA Youth Cup in 2022

Manchester United won the FA Youth Cup for the 11th time in 2022, beating Nottingham Forest in the final and extending their own competition record – they still remain the only club with triumphs numbering in double digits. Former winners of the prize, handed to the cream of the academy every season, include Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Marcus Rashford, and, in 2020, new first-team star Anthony Elanga.

Developing homegrown players has been an important part of the United philosophy since the 1930s when the Manchester United Junior Athletic Club was founded. It gave United an unrivaled opportunity to train junior talent for an eventual place in the first team. Each one of United’s prior FA Youth Cup triumphs over the last 70 years has included at least one player who has subsequently gone on to play more than 80 first-team games for the club – in many cases, far more. That was still reflected in 2003 when Kieran Richardson made the senior breakthrough and in 2011, whose graduates included Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba, the latter albeit following a world-record return to Manchester several years later.

Since October 1937, every single United matchday squad has included at least one player developed by the club’s own youth program. This season’s FA Youth Cup triumph promises to keep that incredible legacy burning brightly.

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