Leeds United: Ex-defender Hart takes over as head of academy

Paul Hart
Paul Hart
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Paul Hart will begin work as Leeds United’s new academy director tomorrow, taking charge of an in-form camp at Thorp Arch.

The club’s former defender, who previously ran academy at Leeds in the 1990s, agreed a deal to return to the club last week.

Hart is now preparing to assume control on the back of a strong start to the season by United’s senior youth-team squads.

Leeds’ Under-18s – coached by Jason Blunt and John Anderson following Anderson’s arrival from Hull City – have opened their season with four wins from four games and the development squad side claimed a second straight win away at Birmingham City on Tuesday.

Hart is the latest of a series of appointments to the academy. Former Hull coach Daral Pugh – once assistant academy boss at Leeds – has been named as head of coaching and ex-United striker Andy Gray was employed to run their Under-16s last month.

Hart played for Leeds between 1978 and 1983 but is best remembered for his role in the rise of United’s academy 20 years ago.

He famously coached United’s Under-18s to two FA Youth Cup triumphs in 1993 and 1997. The squad in 1997 comprised of players such as Paul Robinson, Harry Kewell, Alan Smith, Jonathan Woodgate and Stephen McPhail.

Speaking during an interview with the YEP in July, Hart said: “After thoroughly enjoying playing at Leeds I went back for another five years coaching in 1992 and enjoyed it even more when I was coaching the kids. It was wonderful.”

Hart has managed numerous English clubs during his career and was also responsible for running the academies at Nottingham Forest, Charlton Athletic and Notts County.

He has been out of work since a short spell as caretaker of Notts County last season.

The 62-year-old is effectively replacing former academy boss and development-squad coach Neil Redfearn who resigned in July following a fall-out with club owner Massimo Cellino.

Cellino met with Hart to discuss the job last Friday and Leeds have spent this week finalising his contract.

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