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UEFA Youth League

Maxwell: The UEFA Youth League is a perfect mirror to the Champions League

9:00 AM GMT 18/04/2022
UEFA Youth League 2022
The former Barcelona, PSG and Inter star is now heading up Europe's youth development and is happy with the impact of the competition

Maxwell, UEFA's chief of football development, has lauded the impact of the Youth League just nine years after the founding of the competition. 

The yearly tournament, which in many ways is similar to that of the senior men's competitions, has attracted big crowds and has been treated as a major piece of silverware for Europe's major academies like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea. 

Maxwell believes that its impact has benefited European footballers, allowing hundreds to experience pressured competition before going on to do it in the senior game. 

What did Maxwell say?

"I think it is the highest competition where you can face the best teams and players in Europe," Maxwell told GOAL. "It is a good opportunity to face different clubs and coaches of football. 

"The process of development gives a great platform to perform for players, coaches and even referees. We see that the competition has a huge impact on youth football. 

"We see 800 or so players go from there to Champions League, Europa League and Conference League. There’s a huge impact on the development of those youth players. 

"We had Deportivo playing Dynamo Kiev and there were 20,000 fans. It is like a real competition for men. 

"We see that players go out and shine under this pressure into the first team. It is an opportunity and it is the top level of youth football. 

"Often, you see around 75 minutes onwards that they get more cramps than in other competitions because of the difficulty of the matches.

"We are seeing UEFA Youth League winners do it in the Champions League and Europa League with Mason Mount and Andreas Christensen doing it at Chelsea. There's also Munir El Haddadi who won with Barcelona and then the Europa League with Sevilla.

"This competition is a platform to develop players in the highest competitive scenario and bring them an added value with educational programmes. They face the best and that helps develop for the professional level and to compete at the highest level."

Why is Maxwell in such a key role at UEFA?

Maxwell retired from football in 2017 with the most club trophies won by a professional player. That record was since surpassed by Barcelona full-back Dani Alves, while he was at Paris Saint-Germain. 

After retiring, Maxwell went on to become PSG's assistant sporting director which coincided with the most successful period in the club's history. 

Through his role at PSG, and after completing his UEFA Executive Master for International Players (UEFA MIP) course, Maxwell got his big role at Europe's governing body for football. 

"I think former players should understand that life is not just about being a ‘former player’," the former left-back who impressively speaks English, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese added. 

"You need to work and educate yourself for life after. We have courses and preparations with UEFA having the best platform to educate former players. 

"When you have lived football, then giving back is important. I enjoyed it a lot so it is time for me to give back as well.

"The opportunity I have to work with the Youth League is crucial. Not all players finish with elite careers, it is an uncertain period. 

"Everyone has the dream, drive and ambition but it is still uncertain that you succeed. I think it is a big responsibility for me and UEFA to show that there’s a future and they can be educated and prepare themselves in different ways. 

"I have been in a football world from five or six years old. I lived insecure times in Brazil and the beginning in the Netherlands. Afterwards, I succeeded in different countries. 

"There were a lot of ups and downs but I know I am able to look back on my career with a lot of happiness."

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