BRADFORD-BORN Des Hazel has been involved in football for the best part of 40 years.

After making 274 Football League appearances for the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham United (more on that in part two), Hazel retired in 2000 to begin a career in developing young players.

Roles at Bradford City and Leeds United followed, before he landed a job at one of the biggest clubs in the country, Manchester City.

Gareth Roberts then brought his expertise to Horsfall last October in an attempt to build a successful academy.

Speaking about how he took the role as academy head coach at Bradford (Park) Avenue, Hazel said: “Micky Wood, who I worked with years ago at Bradford City, asked me if I would be interested in getting back into the coaching side of things.

“It all links into one. You have to build a base where eventually you can produce players to step into the first team. It has to be a process, built over two or three years.

“Ideally you are looking to use Bradford (Park Avenue) as a community base. The attendances are very nominal, so you have to look at the community and try and get a new clientele which would help the first team and the youth team.”

An example of the sort of player Hazel is aiming to bring through is young Jamie Lyons. The 17-year-old impressed immediately and has since made a number of first team appearances.

Hazel said: “When I went in there after a week, I realised this kid could play. He had the right ability and temperament. He still has to grow into his body but that will come.

“Technically, from all the players I have worked with, he ticks a lot of those boxes at such a young age. Mark (Bower) liked him and he has played in the first team. We are looking to attract those types of players.”

Elite development scout was the 52-year-old’s title at current Premier League champions City. When describing his responsibilities at the club, Hazel dropped in a few names who are on the cusp of becoming world stars in the game.

“You are looking at emerging talent,” he said. “(Jadon) Sancho was there, and Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mason Mount were the type of players you were looking at, the top end quality.

“When you are recruiting for Manchester City, you have got to realise that these players have already been found.

“All you are doing is cherry picking all these players from other academies. You would see what his strengths and weaknesses are but when you are at that level, all the top clubs are looking at similar types of players.

“Jadon (Sancho) was at one of the southern clubs at the time. I am not surprised he is where he is, he is technically very good and will only get better.”

Not only was Hazel watching some of the best young starlets out there, he was also working with a mastermind in the coaching department.

Pep Guardiola has won it all during his spells at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City, and the Bradfordian does not think there is a better person to learn from.

“We used to have scouting meetings and Pep would be there on occasions,” Hazel added. “His philosophy on the game is very good in terms of ball retention.

“His ideas on the game I agree with, but he has great knowledge of the game too. I worked with some brilliant people when I was there.”

Hazel has hosted a number of trials since he was appointed at Bradford and gave his assessment on what he looks for in a player.

“It could be anything,” the former winger said. “He might not do anything for 90 minutes but it could be the way he trains or moves. Is he injured? Is he growing? Has he got that desire? There’s a lot of factors you have to consider.

“The trials have not gone too badly. You look at the local community and you have got to be brutally honest; I have got to start looking at players outside Bradford as well that have been released from professional clubs.

“You have got to be a realist; the chances are that not a lot of them will become professional footballers. We are looking at players who can push on into the first team.”

Stay tuned for part two later this week where Hazel recalls his playing days, when he played with a host of internationals and even came up against one of the very best.

For those interested in one day gracing the Horsfall pitch themselves, trials are still open for the 2020/21 season in both the men's and ladies' academies.

Contact for more details.