Academy Spotlight: Eli Hearn
Updated: Sep 5
Wealdstone FC’s new academy has already provided three first team debuts during pre-season, one of those debutants was 16-year-old defender Eli Hearn.
We spoke to the former Watford academy defender on how he has found life with the National League South Champions so far and on his first team debut this week.
“I was a centre-back at Watford and joined them when I was seven, so I was there for about eight or nine years”, said Hearn.
On how Hearn found out about our academy…
“I joined Wealdstone recently, about a month or so ago, and my friend had invited me to one of the trials that were going on. I came in and met Matty Saunders and the rest of the academy coaching staff and they have really helped me settle in.
“It was an incredible experience to play forty-five minutes at Northwood on Tuesday, I only turned sixteen in July but the senior lads really helped me get through it on my debut.”
On the recent academy pre-season games…
“It’s been really good, to play recognised clubs like Brentford and Sutton United is great experience for myself and the team. All the lads have played really well so far, we have played some great football and have jelled quickly.
“We are taught to play out from the back by Matty and the other coaches exactly like the first team are. The coaches demand high standards from us and help us play really good football, which is a great environment to be in.
“To play the same style as the first team really helped me on my debut and after settling down I felt I played well. To have the direct link to the first team with Matty as our head coach has helped boost my development really quickly.”
On being described as a Rolls Royce by assistant manager Stuart Maynard on Tuesday…
“It was amazing when I saw that he said that about me to be honest! I saw the video on Twitter and it was a great feeling to be described like that by a member of the first team management.”
On what Hearn wants to achieve at Wealdstone and in his football career…
“I definitely want to do well for the academy here and give myself a good foundation to get more opportunities for the Wealdstone first team.
“Hopefully I can get lucky and start playing regularly here one day! In my footballing career I want to be playing at the highest level possible and playing in the Football League or the Premier League would be brilliant.”
We spoke to Academy head coach Saunders about Hearn…
“As our fans would have seen on Tuesday, he likes to step in and can pick good passes. He already reads the game pretty well, gets himself in the right positions and has a little burst of pace.
“He probably needs twelve to eighteen months before he is ready for first team football but he already plays our mould of football and we definitely like what we are seeing of Eli.
“Eli performed really well on Tuesday, he saw a lot of the ball and he used it really well, I don’t remember him giving the ball away or get himself into any bad positions. Jerome Okimo helped him out and that’s what you need as a young player, there’s something for us to build on and I was really impressed with him.
“We like Eli here and he just needs to keep his head down, keep listening, keep learning and doing what he’s doing. It’s hard to say how far he’ll go in football but he’ll have a career of some sort, which is what he wants.”
The Wealdstone FC Academy are still recruiting players ahead of their debut season, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.