Neil Redfearn back at Bradford City as bridge between academy and first team

Neil Redfearn is to return to Bradford City to help bring through the next generation of talented youngsters.

The former midfielder, who played for their Bantams during their first Premier League season, will be in charge of their under-19s but his wider brief as lead professional development phase coach is creating a bridge to first-team football for the club's young talent.

A coaching career as varied as his playing one has given the 58-year-old important experience of both environments.

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“It feels really good to be back," said Redfearn, who made 21 appearances in 1998-99 but is best known for his time with Barnsley of the many Yorkshire clubs he represented.

NEW JOB: Bradford City coach Neil RedfearnNEW JOB: Bradford City coach Neil Redfearn
NEW JOB: Bradford City coach Neil Redfearn

"It is a while since I played here, but this is a fantastic club with a good history of bringing young players through, so it is a great place to be.

“I have got good experience from my time at other clubs in similar roles. We have some fantastic young players on our books and it is a good time to try and bring that talent to the fore, which I am excited to be a part of."

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Redfearn has also managed the now-defunct Scarborough, Northwich Victoria and Rotherham United, and had further caretaker stints with Halifax Town, York City, and earlier this season Oldham Athletic, as well as managing in the women's game with Doncaster Rovers Belles, Liverpool and Sheffield United. He also had a spell as Newcastle United's under-23 coach.

PLAYING DAYS: Neil Redfearn appeared in the Premier League for Bradford CityPLAYING DAYS: Neil Redfearn appeared in the Premier League for Bradford City
PLAYING DAYS: Neil Redfearn appeared in the Premier League for Bradford City

“The experience of having one foot in the academy and another in the first team, as I did at Newcastle United and Leeds United, will help," he said. "It is good to have your own identity and always nice to have your own players in the first team.

“It was only a few weeks ago I was on the grass helping out at Oldham Athletic, and this is a challenge that really excites me. This is a big club in its history and tradition, and we want to give these boys the opportunity to kick on and further their careers.”

Ryan Farrell has been promoted to head of coaching at Bradford's academy.

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“In bridging that gap between PDP and first team, Neil has been there, seen it and done it," said Farrell. "He has been in those environments, seen the pathways and knows what it takes for players to progress from under-18s and under-19s to the first team.

“I am really proud and privileged to be moving up to head of coaching, on a personal note, following on from some great people in Conor Marlin, Martin Drury and Lewis Nightingale who have created really strong foundations for me to build on.

“I am hoping to share my experience of being here for a number of years within our academy, and drawing on Neil’s experience in the game as a player here and elsewhere, and as a coach and a manager to collaborate powerfully within the academy and have a bigger impact on our players moving forward.”