England Under 21 Captain and Southampton star James Ward-Prowse answered students’ questions at Oasis Academy Lord’s Hill. Where James gives an insight into why the Southampton academy has proved so successful in the past:
If you were to give one piece of advice to an aspiring footballer what would it be?
There’s a few things I’d say, but I think the most important one is to work hard. I think, in general, not only football, but in life, I think you need to work hard to achieve your goals.
What is your favourite goal you have scored?
I scored a free kick for England in the Toulon Tournament a couple of years ago against Brazil. We were losing 2-0, but it got us back into the game. That is probably one of my favourites.
Who would you name as the most skilful player at Southampton?
I’d say Sofiane Boufal. He’s always in training trying to nutmeg people and trying to do cool tricks. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but he’s had a few nutmegs on me in the last few weeks.
Who is in charge of the music in the Southampton dressing room?
Nathan Redmond has taken over. He’s got a few good mixes and it doesn’t go down too well. Some of the lads like it, some of the lads don’t. But, not too bad, I don’t mind it.
Which Southampton player do think has the best goal celebration?
I’d probably say Maya Yoshida. I know he doesn’t score too many, but he scored one against Aston Villa in the cup a few years ago and I think he dabbed. So, I’d give that one to Maya.
What is your greatest memory in a Southampton shirt?
I’d say the EFL Cup final a couple of weeks ago. Although it wasn’t a good result for us, being young, coming through the academy, coming into the first team and getting to represent them at Wembley in front of 85,000 people meant a lot to me. It was a good experience for me and for all the team. Hopefully we can get back there one day and for myself with England would be special.
The Southampton Academy keeps on producing players such as Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and yourself. Why do you think the Academy has proved so successful?
I think it’s a lot of things. I think the young players can see there’s a pathway to the first team, but also I think it’s credit to the club that they give opportunities to young players, and I think there’s a lot of clubs who don’t necessarily give the chances to players at such a young age and I was privileged to be part of a club who does.
The Southampton players have been playing excellent football under Claude Puel. What are his strengths as a manager?
He’s very passionate. He loves to join in with training. He likes to tackle the players and get involved which is nice to see. He’s very determined to succeed and everybody around him in the coaching staff is the same, so it’s a good combination at the minute.
It was a great achievement for Southampton to reach this season’s League Cup Final. How would you describe the Final as an occasion?
It was great! I was very nervous, the day before especially. I had a lot of my family coming up. They are the moments and they are the games, as players, that you live for. I remember being your age and dreaming of playing at Wembley so to finally do it is a great achievement. Like I said, although we didn’t win the game it’s made us into a better team, and for me, personally, a better player having played on that sort of stage and the experience that comes along side it from a final.
At the club who would win a 100m race?
I’d probably say Ryan Bertrand. He’s probably the quickest. I think he will disagree, but I think in the recent stats from the games he’s been the quickest.
Who are your best friends at Southampton?
I’d say Fraser Forster, I get on well with him. When he came to the club I introduced him to people and got on well with him. Jay Rodriguez is a good friend of mine, but everybody gets on with everyone so it’s a good team to be a part of.
Who is the funniest person in the dressing room?
There’s a few, but I’d probably say Fraser Forster again. He does things in the spur of the moment and gets the lads laughing every day.
Who is the most difficult player you have ever played against?
I’d say Paul Scholes. I remember being young, I think I was 17 at the time, and playing against Man United and he came on with 20 minutes to go and we were all tired and he made the game look very easy and made it tough for us. He played a big part in helping United win that day, so I’ll say Paul Scholes.
This season which Premier League player has impressed you most?
I’d probably say Victor Moses has been very good. I’ve watched Chelsea a few times this season and he wasn’t very involved last year so to come in and do as well as he has done is credit to him and he is a key reason why they are top of the league.
Who was your footballing hero growing up?
I’d probably say Steven Gerrard and David Beckham. I think as an English player he showed everything you need to be to become a top professional footballer and sportsperson. He is passionate, he could score goals, and of course a very good passer of the ball, so growing up I used to watch a lot of videos of him to see how he played and see what I could learn from him.
What is it like to captain the England U21 side?
It’s a great honour. It’s great to be part of such a good team and a good group of staff as well. When I was your age I grew up dreaming of playing for England and to be able to captain my country at youth level is obviously a massive honour and something that I can hopefully do for the men’s national side one day.