Charlton Athletic academy manager Steve Avory has expressed his delight that Ezri Konsa and Ademola Lookman were a part of England’s u20 World Cup-winning squad this month as Arsenal and Everton scouts watched on.
The young Lions beat Venezuela in a nervy 1-0 victory last weekend to lift the trophy, and former Charlton forward Lookman excelled throughout the tournament.
Konsa received a late call-up and made his debut at the semi-final stage against Italy. Scouts from Lookman’s current club Everton as well as Arsenal were said to be watching the defender at the tournament.
When questioned about Konsa’s contribution especially given the circumstances Avory said, “There is a real sense of pride I had when watching that.
“I don’t know where every player comes from but what I did pick up is that you’ve got so many players that have come through Category One academies and there we have Ezri in the squad, you’ve got Ademola, two players who have come from a Category Two academy – that’s where their development has taken place.
“Ezri just feels fortunate in some respects to be out there because, while he was selected for the squad this season, he’d not actually played because of the injury problem he had,” Avory continued.
Konsa made 32 League One appearances last season but didn’t feature in their final fixture of the campaign, a 3-0 win over Swindon Town.
“When I talked to him, he was just filled with so much pride at the prospect of going to Toulon, which has a prestigious reputation. To then suddenly be told to get on a plane and go to South Korea, was exciting.
“To see him standing there before he went on and getting a taste of it in a World Cup semi-final, it fills you with a lot of satisfaction.
“Everybody at the club, not just the Academy, should be proud of Ezri as I know he is proud of his upbringing here. He always feels as if people at this club have cared for him and he and his parents have appreciated that throughout the years.”
Lookman joined Everton for a reported £11m in January and after three years with the Addicks, has already made eight Premier League appearances.
On the connection that Konsa and Lookman share, Avory said: “They know each other very well. They’ve know each other from a social sense, a professional sense.”
“There is a good bond between them – there always has been. They’re two that broke through into the first team within the same year. I look upon with pride when I see them because of Charlton’s contribution to their development pathway and I know they appreciate everything that’s been done for them at this club.”
Konsa’s long-term future at the Valley is uncertain with some of England’s top flight clubs, including Arsenal, interested in his development.
It’ll be intriguing to see whether he remains at Charlton for another season or decides to follow Lookman’s footsteps to a lucrative Premier League switch in the near future.