Bryan Klug is invaluable to Ipswich Town, says Hibernian midfielder
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A decade to the day since Ipswich Town’s last FA Youth Cup success, a member of that triumphant squad has backed the Blues to flourish again under academy supremo, Bryan Klug.
Hibernian midfielder Liam Craig skippered the Town team to a two-legged success against a Southampton side featuring the likes of Theo Walcott, Adam Lallana and current Blues star David McGoldrick, in 2005.
His boss, Klug, was sacked as head of youth development at Town in 2010, but returned two years later and, as academy director, is overseeing the development of young Ipswich starlets Kundai Benyu, Teddy Bishop, Matthew Clarke and Andre Dozzell.
His class of 2005 included a handful of players that went on to forge professional careers, including Craig, Bolton’s Liam Trotter, Crystal Palace’s Owen Garvan and match-winner on the night, Millwall’s Ed Upson.
Now, as Craig attempts to lead Hibs back to the Scottish Premier League, the 28-year-old thinks Klug is a vital cog in the Blues’ wheel.
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“Bryan Klug and Malcolm Moore (former head of recruitment) knew how to bring the best out of players both on and off the pitch and, looking back, they have helped mould me as a person and a player,” he said.
“People like Bryan don’t come along too often and he knows how to develop a player and make them into a first-team starter.
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“When I was at Ipswich there were a lot of players, aged 15 and 16, that were living away from their family and friends for the first time but Bryan knew how to help them deal with their situations.”
The Saints also had future Real Madrid star Gareth Bale in their ranks that night 10 years ago and Craig believes Town’s achievement, the Blues winning 1-0 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate, was no mean feat.
“That was an incredible Southampton team, they had won the league quite easily that year, and when you look at what the likes of Bale, Lallana and Dyer have gone onto achieve, that speaks volumes for the group of players that we had and the coaching team that led us – they created a great togetherness,” recalled Craig.
Craig is hoping for more end-of-season success next month in the Scottish Championship play-offs with Hibs and would love to see Mick McCarthy’s team follow suit in England.
He added: “Ipswich earned a great point at Wolves and it would be fantastic if they could reach the Premier League, 10 years after the Youth Cup win.”