Players representing both eras of Graham Taylor-insipred management will form an exciting new-look Academy leadership structure at Watford FC, with youth-team products Richard Johnson and Jimmy Gilligan appointed to newly-created roles.
The ex-Hornets will lead a progressive youth development system that aims to put local talent on the pathway to a successful future in the professional game, while ensuring aspiring footballers are also equipped for the challenges of post-Academy life, wherever that journey takes them.
Taking up the position of Academy Director is former Watford midfielder Richard Johnson.
Meanwhile Jimmy Gilligan - who came through as one of many Hornets' home-grown young stars of the 1980s under the tutelage of GT and legendary youth coach Tom Walley - is joining from The Football Association to take up the role of Head of Technical Development.
“I feel very honoured to serve our club as Academy Director having first joined when I was only 16 years old,” said Johnson.
“I came through the youth system and went on to play for nearly 12 years, so I know what it feels like to make that journey.”
Gilligan said of his appointment: “I'm delighted to be coming back to a wonderful football club and one that is so dear to my heart.
“The values of Watford Football Club under Graham Taylor have helped me develop as a coach and as a person, so I'm very excited about helping shape the future of the players at this football club.”
Added Johnson: “Our Academy has had an incredible reputation of producing and nurturing talent. To have the opportunity of playing a part in the development of the next generation of Watford players is truly humbling.”
Hornets' Chairman & CEO Scott Duxbury said of the move: “Combining Richard's vision and Jimmy's experience is going to provide a very powerful message to aspiring young footballers in our local area.
“I look forward to watching the development of the Academy under two people who really understand what this club means to its supporters and, just as importantly, the young players in our care.”