A for­mer Southamp­ton young­ster has revealed why he con­tro­ver­sial­ly left Ever­ton in favour of join­ing the South Coast club.

Southamp­ton have a long his­to­ry of pro­duc­ing first-team­ers from their Sta­ple­wood acad­e­my, with Matt Le Tisi­er and Alan Shear­er being the poster boys.

Due to their glow­ing rep­u­ta­tion in devel­op­ing young play­ers, the club have been able to attract tal­ent­ed teenagers from acad­e­mies across the coun­try.

Romeo Lavia and Tino Livra­men­to, who joined from Man­ches­ter City and Chelsea, are per­fect exam­ples of that.

The duo flour­ished in the Southamp­ton first team and depart­ed last sum­mer for a com­bined total of £98m.

Thier­ry Small was anoth­er play­er who joined the South Coast­ers with real promise and in a recent inter­view with Lon­don News Online, he revealed all on his con­tro­ver­sial switch from Ever­ton.

Thierry Small reveals why he signed for Southampton

Southampton Unveil New Signing Thierry Small
Pho­to by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Get­ty Images

Small became Everton’s youngest-ever play­er when he appeared in an FA Cup fourth-round tie against Sheffield Wednes­day aged 16 years and 176 days in Jan­u­ary 2021.

The Eng­land youth inter­na­tion­al was tipped to reach lofty heights and Ever­ton were keen to tie him down to a three-year deal.

Man­ches­ter Unit­ed, Arse­nal and Bay­ern Munich were all keep­ing tabs on his con­tract sit­u­a­tion yet it was Southamp­ton who he decid­ed to join not long after cel­e­brat­ing his 17th birth­day.

Speak­ing on his con­tro­ver­sial Ever­ton exit, Small said: “The way Ever­ton was, I wish I could’ve left on bet­ter terms.

“The way it came out wasn’t com­plete­ly true – there was a lot of false spec­u­la­tion about the move to Southamp­ton.

“Going there was just a fam­i­ly deci­sion to bet­ter my career. You have got to take risks – some­times they pay off and some­times they don’t, it’s just part of life.

“It was a good expe­ri­ence, in terms of being around the first-team envi­ron­ment at 17. I don’t think a lot of play­ers would’ve been doing that at my age, so the expe­ri­ence of just that alone was unbe­liev­able.

“It’s hard to adapt because I was new to first-team foot­ball. I went from being a schol­ar straight into a first-team envi­ron­ment in the Pre­mier League. Tran­si­tion-wise it was a lit­tle hard for me men­tal­ly to get used to that, it took a bit of a while.

“But then you have a few loans and devel­op, it’s a nat­ur­al part of the game – you grow, not just as a play­er but also as a per­son.”

Thierry Small reinvigorated at Charlton

Dur­ing his time at Saints, Small had loan spells at Port Vale and St. Mir­ren before his con­tract was mutu­al­ly ter­mi­nat­ed ear­li­er this year.

The 19-year-old joined Charl­ton on a free trans­fer in Feb­ru­ary and has become a fix­ture of the League One out­fit, play­ing every minute of the last sev­en games.

Small is begin­ning to ful­fil his ear­ly promise play­ing under for­mer Saints man­ag­er Nathan Jones yet he insists the best is still to come.

“I’ll be hon­est, they’ve only seen a lit­tle bit of what I’m capa­ble of. I feel with more expe­ri­ence and work­ing under the man­ag­er, that I can reach some high­er lev­els in my game.”

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