Trent Alexander Arnold has launched an initiative that will offer backup plan for academy players who fails to make it as professional footballers.

The After Academy, which has the backing of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), will provide help and support to those who have dropped out of the academy system at elite clubs.

Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold knows he is one of the lucky ones.

Premier League champion, Champions League winner, England international.

The 24-year-old defender has dedicated almost two decades – since joining Liverpool aged six – to reach the very top of the game, with all the glory and financial rewards that come with it.

But for every Trent Alexander-Arnold there are hundreds of thousands of youngsters whose dreams falter – and the affects can be devastating.

In an Instagram post in February 2022, Alexander-Arnold revealed he had seen the impact being released by a football club as a teenager can have, having grown up alongside some youngsters who did not make the grade at Liverpool’s academy, and appealed to young players with similar experiences to come forward.

It is estimated that of the 1.5 million players who are playing organised youth football in England at any one time, around 180 – or 0.012% – will make it as a Premier League professional.

More than three-quarters of academy players are dropped between the ages of 13 and 16.

For some the consequences can be devastating, with the issue brought into sharper focus by the death of former Manchester City youth player Jeremy Wisten.

Wisten was 18 when he took his own life in October 2020, less than two years after he had been released by City.

In response, Alexander-Arnold is launching the ‘The After Academy’, an initiative focused on providing career opportunities to former academy players.

The scheme, run in conjunction with the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), will partner with companies to provide job opportunities for former academy players, who will be supported throughout the application process.

The Premier League issued new guidance this season stating that all club academies should provide a three-year ‘aftercare’ plan for every player that is let go between the under-17 and under-21 age ranges.

And it has its own under-16 development programme for youngsters who are released by clubs.

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