Hamza Choudhury

LCFC's Academy: A Fertile Ground For Rising Stars

Leicester City's first team squad is currently populated by three Academy graduates - Ben Chilwell, Hamza Choudhury and Harvey Barnes - all of whom are England internationals at various levels.
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Like Andy King, who has won titles in English football's top three divisions, Chilwell, Choudhury and Barnes have all progressed through the ranks at the Club's Belvoir Drive training ground.

Following confirmation of Choudhury's new contract with the Foxes, which sees him commit his future at King Power Stadium until 2023, LCFC.com looks at our Academy's recent success stories.

Andy King

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Andy King
Andy King

After making his debut in 2007, King went on to win the Premier League, Championship and League 1 titles.

Perhaps Leicester City's most successful-ever Academy graduate, Andy King has won every divisional title which he has contested during his 15-year career at the Football Club.

After joining the Academy during his mid-teenage years, Andy King made his senior debut for the Foxes in a 0-0 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Championship in October 2007.

Shortly after, on the first day of December that year, the Wales youth international scored a rocket from distance in a 2-1 defeat by Southampton, which was Ian Holloway's first loss as manager.

While the 2007/08 campaign was one to be proud of for King, who made 11 first team appearances, it ultimately ended in disappointment for City, who were relegated to League 1.

However, under the astute management of Nigel Pearson, the Foxes rose again in the third tier, with King netting 11 goals in 54 appearances in all competitions as Leicester won the title.

Set upon the backdrop of pre-season scepticism about City's chances of competing for promotion, another 11-goal haul helped fire Leicester to the Play-Off Semi-Finals in 2009/10. 

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King's coronation
King's coronation

Andy is the only player to ever win the League 1, Championship and Premier League titles in his career.

Heartbreak at Cardiff City followed, but King's status as 'Mr. Reliable' was set in stone. It would take another four years for King and his team-mates to eventually seal promotion as champions in 2015.

Over that period, he made a maximum of 50 appearances and a minimum of 32 per season, in all competitions, to firmly establish himself as a favourite among the Blue Army.

It was also his goal which arguably lit the fuse on the Club's 'great escape' from relegation in 2015, as his late winner against West Ham United began a run which included seven wins in nine.

While King's place in midfield was contested by the duo of Danny Drinkwater and N'Golo Kanté in 2015/16, Andy nonetheless made another 25 outings during the Club's greatest-ever season.

He was there on the coronation, too, to score for Leicester during a 3-1 win over Everton at King Power Stadium as Claudio Ranieri's title-winners hoisted the Premier League trophy aloft. 

King also starred four times as the Foxes reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League the following season and is currently on loan at Scottish Premiership side Rangers.

Ben Chilwell

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Ben Chilwell
Ben Chilwell

Chilwell has progressed from exciting prospect to established international at the Club.

Since joining City from Rushden and Diamonds at the age of 12 in 2010, Ben Chilwell's rise was signposted by many within the Academy who immediately spotted his raw talent and capacity to learn.

Chilwell initially played for local side Woburn Lions, near Milton Keynes, and went on to climb through the Club's age ranks at a rapid pace over the years which followed his move to Leicester.

Ben’s journey from Academy prospect to England left-back has been a story of undoubted talent, single-minded determination and admirable maturity.

He made his Foxes debut with an accomplished showing at Hull City in the Carabao Cup in 2015, before an impressive loan spell in the Championship with Huddersfield Town.

Chilwell had to be patient for his Premier League debut, which arrived at home to Everton in December, just a few weeks after a UEFA Champions League bow at FC Porto’s Estádio do Dragão.

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Ben Chilwell
Ben Chilwell

Ben Chilwell became the 20th player to represent England while at the Club after his appearance against Switzerland in 2018.

It was Ben’s buccaneering display as a second-half substitute during a 1-1 Champions League Quarter-Final second leg draw with Atlético Madrid which truly caught the eye of the Foxes faithful.

Chilwell has since made City’s left-back berth his own, supplementing his outstanding technical qualities with ambitious attacking instincts, underpinned by a remarkable level of physical conditioning.

Having featured for England at Under-18, Under-19, Under-20 and Under-21 level, Ben’s early-season form last term saw him complete the pathway to Gareth Southgate’s senior squad in September 2018. 

It was also a call-up which saw him make a fairy-tale England debut on home soil at King Power Stadium against Switzerland - his first of seven caps for the national team.

He was the first City Academy graduate to make his England debut since Emile Heskey in 1999 and his undoubted ability means it is likely to just be the beginning of a successful career to come.

Harvey Barnes 

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Harvey Barnes
Harvey Barnes

From a young age, Harvey's direct attacking style was on show.

Countesthorpe-based Harvey Barnes joined City’s Academy at the age of nine and has steadily progressed over a short passage of time, which included three productive loan spells in the Football League.

While he had not featured for the first team before, Barnes was a second-half substitute at FC Porto in the UEFA Champions League in December 2016, before joining MK Dons on loan in 2016/17.

Despite heading to Milton Keynes after Christmas, Harvey was named the club's Young Player of the Season, after he scored five goals in 23 appearances for the League 1 outfit.

At the end of the campaign, he was also voted Development Squad Player of the Season for Leicester City before winning the Toulon Tournament with England's Under-20s as joint Golden Boot winner.

Barnes continued his development on loan at Championship side Barnsley in 2017/18, scoring five goals in 25 appearances, before being recalled by the Foxes in January.

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Harvey Barnes
Harvey Barnes

The Academy graduate's strike settled the result in south Yorkshire on Saturday.

He later made his domestic debut for Leicester against Fleetwood Town in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup that same month, and enjoyed a Premier League bow against Southampton in April.

Later that summer, Barnes joined West Bromwich Albion on loan, where he scored nine times in 26 appearances for the Baggies, before being recalled once again after Christmas. 

He went on to make 16 appearances during their 2018/19 campaign, scoring his first Premier League goal in April - a last-gasp equaliser in the Club's 2-2 draw with West Ham United at London Stadium.

His rise to prominence coincided with a promotion to England's Under-21s side last season and he was also a part of Aidy Boothroyd's squad at the UEFA U21 European Championships in Italy this year.

Harvey's talent was again on show as a recently as last Saturday, when his thunderbolt volley sealed a 2-1 win for the Foxes at Sheffield United in the Premier League, City's first victory of the 2019/20 season.

Hamza Choudhury

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Academy strides
Academy strides

Hamza, seen here in 2012, continued to progress through the Leicester City Academy ranks as an energetic midfielder.

Easily-recognisable Hamza Choudhury's bond with Leicester dates back 14 years to the first day a seven-year-old Hamza walked into Belvoir Drive after choosing the Club over Nottingham Forest in 2005.

Tales told within the corridors of the Club's training ground remember a young Hamza tackling opponents so eagerly that Academy coaches often had to apologise to parents on his behalf. 

Choudhury was part of the Under-18 side which reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup in 2014/15 for only the second time in the Club’s history.

Later on, meanwhile, he went on to captain the Club's Development Squad in Premier League 2 Division 1, while also skippering the Foxes to Main Cup success at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens in 2017.

Choudhury had developed his talents with a loan spell at Burton Albion in both League 1 and the Championship as a teenager, making a total of 28 appearances across two loans with the Brewers.

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Hamza Choudhury
Hamza Choudhury

Hamza is put under pressure by Chelsea's Jorginho in the capital earlier this season.

He was also a part of the side which earned promotion to the second tier during that time, before making his first team debut for the Foxes in a September 2017 Carabao Cup victory over Liverpool.

The tough-tackling midfielder, based in Loughborough, made his Premier League debut that season, before featuring in each of Leicester City’s final seven fixtures of the 2017/18 campaign.

During that period, he made his first top-flight start for the Foxes against Burnley, while also registering an assist during the 3-1 win over Arsenal in May 2018.

Another nine Premier League outings, 12 in all competitions, followed during the 2018/19 season, but the current campaign has seen Hamza star in every single match so far.

This week, meanwhile, Hamza signed a contract which will keep him at the Football Club until 2023.

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