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News: Ex-Sunderland captain & manager reveals details on historic departures of Academy talent

Former Sunderland captain Kevin Ball has spoken at length on the most recent Roker Rapport Podcast about the departures of academy products Jack Colback, Jordan Henderson and Martyn Waghorn.

Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

In the latest edition of the Roker Rapport podcast, Sunderland’s academy manager Paul Reid and club legend Kevin Ball were kind enough to drop by for a chat.

During the podcast, Ball discussed academy products that had left the club, like Jordan Pickford, Jordan Henderson, Jack Colback and Martyn Waghorn and whether the club should have done more to keep them.

Colback left the club on a free transfer when he signed for Newcastle United but Ball admitted that he tried to push the club into giving the midfielder a new contract, but that plea to the then Sporting Director was ultimately unsuccessful:

If you take Jack for example, would I have preferred to see Jack stay at the club? Absolutely, 100 percent.

I went in and seen the Sporting Director at the time, I don’t want to tell you what he did say to me but my words to him were ‘You need to Jack sorted out with a new contract’ and he replied with what he said...it didn’t come to fruition.

Do I think we lost a very good player in Jack Colback? Absolutely.

Regarding Henderson, Ball says the deal for the current England international was too good and it is impossible to tell if he would have developed as good as he has at Liverpool:

You then look at Jordan Henderson for example, the money that was probably on offer for the club at the time they thought was a fair price, so they gave Jordan the opportunity to go to Liverpool.

Would he have developed as he has at Liverpool? You don’t know.

Although he did admit a pang of regret when it came to Waghorn, with the striker being the first youngster under his tutelage to make the first team, an experience that showed the other young players in the Academy what was possible:

The one with Waggy, I felt a little bit with that one. He had only just started getting around the first team and he was the first player I really remember going from the Academy - in my time - to the first team in that game against Manchester United on Boxing Day.

It was the most excited I had been at Christmas for a long, long time because it was the first product. He had earned that chance, to go out and play there at the Stadium of Light, Man Utd, Boxing Day, 48 thousand. That was a big, big test itself.

I’ll tell you what else it done, it set a bench mark for the players at the time. Waggy can do it, can you do it?

Despite admitting that he would love for all those players to be still at the club, Ball says everyone at the club should take great pride in seeing what they have achieved in their careers.

I’d love them all to be here, would I love at this moment in time to have all these players at our club and for us to be sitting pretty in the Premier League, absolutely.

But I just think it’s not beneficial to look back with ‘if onlys’ and ‘this that and the other’. Those boys have gone off and got their careers and good on them.

I think as a club, not just as an academy but as a club, we should take great pride in that.

You can listen to the Podcast in its entirety by following the links below.