FORMER England international, Watford record holder and European Golden Boot winner Luther Blissett has joined forces with Burnham to create a high-quality youth development programme based on a club-owned academy.

Powered by Bliss8, the highly-regarded player and coach’s own brand, the new academy is intended to improve community and commercial perception for Burnham as well as provide a showcase for talent that will ultimately be developed to strengthen first team performance.

The new club-owned academy will create an environment where young players can succeed academically while developing the necessary skills to become a part of the club’s football strategy or enhance their future within the sporting industry as a whole.

It will also offer parents, students and businesses a club-owned initiative to engage with and be proud of.

Blissett said: “Being asked to set up and run the new official academy for Burnham is a superb partnership for my brand Bliss8. The opportunity to create a youth development programme at the club is a landmark step for all concerned.

“Mentoring young players through their education and maximising their football potential is not a new concept, but this academy will be very much at the heart of the community, introducing the values that underlined much of my career at Watford.”

The new academy will take a name that reflects the active educational pathway which will be the foundation for this youth development project: The Burnham Academicals, creating a separate identity for the academy team and reinforcing the importance of the club ethos.

To be a Burnham player, of any age, you have to learn self-development and take pride in the club, its history and the community that supports you.

Blissett said: “The academy will be established on respect, discipline, working hard individually and collectively. Taking responsibility for yourself and your teammates are very important aspects of building a successful team, giving a good performance that opens the door to gaining a desired result.

“The chance to train alongside senior players and appear for the development squad is a great way to build your self-awareness and football skills. It also gives the first team not only a vital home grown talent resource, but keeps more experienced players aware of the competitiveness of the game.

“I look forward to working alongside the first team manager Dave Tuttle in bringing the best local talent to Burnham and through this contributing to first team success.”

Burnham chairman Gary Reeves commented: “We at Burnham welcome aboard former England international and Watford legend Luther Blissett, who will spearhead the Academicals and all football development at the club.

“I speak on behalf of the board when I say that I firmly believe that the structure and plans we have put in place with Luther will provide a solid foundation for the future and the stability of the club. I’m excited at the prospect of working closely with Luther and Dave.

“This was a fantastic opportunity to start our own football education plan which we feel will benefit not only the club, but the community and schools, and we can’t wait to get started.

“We are determined to put Burnham back on the football map and we also want to inspire the community back into the club.

“Finally, I would like to add a thank you to Burnham Sports Academy for the last two years being based at the club. We wish them well for the future and are pleased that the first team benefited from several players that had come through their academy. We now concentrate on our own football club academy.”

Manager Tuttle added: “I’m excited to be forming a partnership with Luther and can’t wait to get started. This is a positive step for the club to bring through local talent, and supply the first team with a steady stream of talented players who are ready to step up.”