James Ward-Prowse is yet another player on a very long list of Southampton Academy graduates to make it at Premier League level. He hasn’t been sold for big money like so many of the club’s other youth products, but there is an argument that he is the most successful of all. Ward-Prowse, who has been at his boyhood club since the age of eight, has made more first-team appearances for Southampton than any other player to come through their academy.
Since his debut at 16 in 2011, Ward-Prowse has played under seven different permanent managers, yet it is as part of Ralph Hasenhüttl’s high-octane team that he has come into his own and earned the captain’s armband. “He is one of the best midfield players in the Premier League, absolutely,” Hasenhüttl said. “He is not only fantastic at free-kicks, but he also displays a massive workload every game. He can run more than any other player. He is robust. He is gifted. He is technical. He is very, very smart.”