In the week where Manchester City unveiled their state of the art £200m-plus City Football Academy, former Blues youth team skipper Ben Mee admits he has no regrets at leaving.
Mee captained City to FA Youth Cup success in 2008, alongside Kieran Trippier, but both were forced to look elsewhere for first team football.
City have now upped the ante as they look to develop their own talent over the road from the City of Manchester Stadium, with a training ground boasting 16 training pitches, a 7,000 all-seater stadium, accommodation and a sixth form centre.
It is a long way from Platt Lane, where Mee was developed, but he has made his own way to the Premier League with Burnley, after leaving City in the summer of 2011, and he is not envious of the new facilities enjoyed by his old club: “It’s changed an awful lot. There are people I still speak to staff-wise but it’s gone off the scale really.
“But have enjoyed every minute of being here. Last season was a massive highlight and playing in the Premier League this season is brilliant, so I have no regrets at all.“I don’t need everything provided for me. Give me something simple and I can deal with it so for me it’s not a problem and or me it wasn’t that much of a change.
“It was an easy move to make.”
Players have struggled to break through the youth system at City into the first team, indeed, only fringe player Dedryck Boyata of the current squad is a City product, and Mee added: “He has found it tough and not got much game time but he has stuck around.
“Lots of things have changed with the success that people want and the pressure the manager is under and the players are under as well to bring success.”
Manager Sean Dyche last week spoke of the development of players and whether the “elitist approach guarantees an elitist outcome”, but Mee feels it can work both ways: “It’s going to help you as a young professional, having all that laid on for you.
“It depends on the individual at the end of the day, whether it goes to their head or anything.
“It’s a great facility and many people will benefit, not just the lads at the Academy but people around there and the community.
“I might try and have a look round. It would be nice to see the facilities.
“To get that education would be fantastic for any youngster, but it’s not everything.
“Facilities aren’t everything. You need the right coaches and the right people around you to help you and I wouldn’t go back and change anything.
“I had great people there at the Academy, who aren’t there any more and it was a good time to be part of that Academy at the time.”