Joe EdwardsDevelopment Squad Manager
Formerly the Under-18s coach, Joe Edwards took charge of the development squad in the summer of 2017.
A former Chelsea schoolboy player who has been a part of the Academy coaching staff since 2004, he was handed the reins of the Under-18 side for the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons, in which the FA Youth Cup was won twice. In his first season in charge of the side, we overcame Manchester City in a two-legged final. Our place in the final had been secured in the most dramatic fashion; trailing 3-0 on aggregate against Tottenham we managed to turn the tie around, eventually progressing courtesy of a stunning second-leg display at Stamford Bridge.
The following year, we advanced comfortably through the competition, beating Manchester United 5-1 away in round four. City were the opposition again in the final and a 4-2 aggregate win sealed another trophy triumph. The youth team were also Under-18 Premier League south winners in both years.
Edwards spent the 2016/17 campaign working as loan player technical coach, liaising closely with several players and coaching staff at their temporary clubs. He was also part of the England Under-18 backroom coaching staff that helped the young Lions win the Toulon Tournament in June 2017.
In his first season as the lead coach of our oldest Academy age group, Edwards guided the team into the semi-finals of the senior Checkatrade Trophy, where they were denied a place in the Wembley final after a penalty shootout defeat to Lincoln City. It was the furthest any academy team had reached in the competition. The Under-19s went one step further in the UEFA Youth League but lost in the final to Barcelona.