Now, with the club's redeveloped Academy being publicly opened on a landmark day, he addresses the supporters who've helped to make it possible.
I felt excited every day growing up as an academy player. I knew I was on the journey to becoming a professional footballer, and it was the stuff of dreams for a young lad raised on a Dublin council estate.
When I made it as a professional, I felt privileged to go to work every morning and today I remain privileged to work at the level I do. No one hands professional football to you on a plate and you have to sacrifice a lot to succeed, but I always remind my players of the position they’re in.
I maximised every single day in my development and didn’t take one second for granted. There’s not much I’d say to change my approach, but if there’s one message I’d share, it would be this: enjoy every moment, and don’t forget why you started playing football - it’s the best game in the world, enjoyed by millions and millions of people.
That’s an ethos I try to implement as a coach through an enjoyable but demanding environment. In recent months, that environment has becoming inspiring, too, because of the new facilities. I come to the Academy and feel immensely proud to call it my place of work.
We have a rich history of developing young talent from south London and beyond and now have the best opportunity to continue that for years to come. Those players who came through our Academy and today play week in, week out in the Premier League show the pathway available at this club.
That pathway has always been there, but now we can match it with one of the best facilities around. This is probably the biggest step forward the club has taken in recent history.
Away from developing players, this is a place the staff can be proud of. We work in a fantastic environment and the staff here were fantastic through good times and bad even before the redevelopment. Now, we have the tools at our disposal to take the next step.