As part of the EFL’s Youth Development Week, we’re looking back at the players who have come through the ranks at Coventry City or had a loan spell at the Sky Blues and gone on to represent their nation.
23 members of the England squad for the EURO 2020 tournament either came through an EFL Club or Academy, played in the EFL or made their debut in the competition.
England’s Jordan Henderson was one of them. The midfielder was with Sunderland when he made a loan move to the Sky Blues in January 2009 at the age of 19. He impressed during his spell with City, playing 13 games in the Championship and FA Cup. At the time he was used predominantly on the right flank, He left Sunderland in 2011 for Liverpool and has since won the Premier League and Champions League amongst other honours and been capped 59 times by England.
Two Sky Blues Academy graduates featured during qualifying for the tournament but missed out on Gareth Southgate’s final squad for the competition.
James Maddison was born and raised in Coventry, joining the Academy at an early age and progressing through the acclaimed system at the Alan Higgs Centre. He made his senior debut in August 2014 at the age of 17, signing his first professional contract in November of that year.
The 2015-16 campaign was a breakthrough one for Maddison, as he was given his opportunity by Manager Tony Mowbray. He started the opening day win over Wigan but picked up an injury later in August that saw him ruled out until December. He came back with a bang though and his form alerted teams higher up the pyramid, and in January he moved to Norwich. However, as part of the deal he was loaned back to the Sky Blues and finished the season having played 24 games and scored 3 goals.
After moving to Norwich, a loan spell at Aberdeen followed before he became a regular at Carrow Road. He was snapped up by Premier League side Leicester City in 2018 for a significant fee and remains there, having played nearly 100 games for the Foxes.
Maddison made his England debut on 14th November 2019 in the 7-0 qualifying win over Montenegro. Still only 24, he will be looking to add further caps in the coming years.
The other Sky Blues Academy graduate was striker Callum Wilson, who featured twice in qualifying for the European Championships.
Like James, Callum made his way through the academy system at the Alan Higgs Centre, making his senior debut for the Sky Blues in the EFL Cup, coming on as a substitute during extra time against Hartlepool United, also aged just 17.
After signing a first professional contract the following summer, Callum enjoyed loan spells with Kettering and Tamworth, before breaking into the City eleven during the 2012/13 League One season, scoring his first goal for the club against Colchester United in March of 2013. That would prove to be the first of 23 goals Wilson would score during his time with Coventry of the course of 55 appearances, as his form during the 2013/14 season saw Championship side AFC Bournemouth come swooping in for his signature.
The striker would go on to help fire Bournemouth into the Premier League and despite suffering two serious injuries during his time with the Cherries, Wilson’s performances earned him a call-up to the England squad, where he has made four international caps, two of which were in the 2020 European Championships qualifying stages against Montenegro and Bulgaria. Wilson also went on to score his first goal for the Three Lions against USA in an international friendly.
Aged 29, Callum currently plays his football at Newcastle United where he finished the season top goalscorer with 12 goals in 25 appearances and also won the club’s Player of the Season award.