David Edwards talks through his time in the Town academy.
Dave Edwards is one of Town’s most successful academy graduates having represented the club over 100 times and achieving great success outside of the club.
As well as coming through the youth ranks in Shropshire, Edwards has went on to play his football in the Premier League and on the international stage.
Despite playing in the top tier of English football and earning international caps with Wales - Edwards’ footballing career originated right at home in Shrewsbury.
“For me my academy experience meant moving away from home,” said Edwards. “All of the scholars had to live at Walford College and we all lived in digs there.
“It made you grow up quickly, but it was really good being around all the lads and being in the academy all the time.
“We were all living by ourselves and had our own rooms at the time. It was about getting that independence and being a full time professional.
“It was amazing, I loved every minute of training every single day and it was a massive step up from what you are used to as a school kid.
“I embraced every moment of it, although it was tough living away from home at such a young age.
“It helped transform you into being able to play the men’s game and you don’t get looked after as much – that helped me. At the end of that season I made my debut.
“You had to be ready for men’s football from an early age. It was also about growing up off the field.
“I will always be grateful for being able to start out at my local team. Being able to progress up the leagues is much better than starting out at a big academy and going out on loan everywhere.
“I remember signing my first deal. It was a proud moment and I was already playing in the first-team.
“I was still on my Youth Team Scholar contract and earning 50 pound a week.
“I got called into a meeting with Jimmy Quinn and I was buzzing thinking I can get a little bit more money.
“They offered me 100 pound a week and Jimmy said you can sign it or you can go back and play with the youth team.
“You don’t want to get too much to quickly and that made me determined to become an even better player.
“Two figures really stick out for me during my time in the academy. Jamie Robinson was one; he was the youth team coach here and also Head of Education.
“He really helped me and as bizarre as it sounds, although all I wanted was to be a footballer, I had mapped out what I wanted to do in terms of education and things like that.
“With the help of Alan Jones, they had in place what I could do instead. Jamie helped me carry that out and I was able to do my A-Levels at 16.
“Probably the biggest influence was Nigel Vaughn – he was massive for me
“He taught me some invaluable tricks of the trade if you like and things I still do to this day.
“He played at a good level, played for Wolves and had international caps for Wales. I just wanted to learn as much from him as I could.”
Edwards left Town in 2007 to join Luton Town and later Wolverhampton Wanderers – where he played for nearly 10 years and amassed a good number of international caps.
Edwards has now come full circle and returned to the club where his career started and feels the platform of the Town academy provided him with basis to start a great career in the game.
“I have never been on loan and always had permanent clubs. I was fortunate to have played over 100 games at the age of 21.
“I had 120 games under my belt here and that was huge and I think that fast tracked me then to be able to get into the national side.
“With those games under my belt it was probably easier for Wolves to take a punt on me when I left Luton.
“Wolves knew I had Conference, League Two and League One experience and it was just about the gradual step up every time.
“Even when I was away from the club I would always be checking the scores.
“Any Town fan would be the same if they went on to have a career in football – they would always look for Shrewsbury results first.
“That’s always what I did. If I ever had a day off and Shrewsbury were playing I would try and get there.
“I watched around four games at the start of this season. My little boy loves coming to watch as well and even more so now.
“Being able to play for the football club you support makes it mean all that much more and a little bit special.
“I have played in every league, from the conference up and had two spells in League one: one with Luton and one with Wolves.
“My wife and my children were absolutely delighted when I came back here and haven’t been able to take the smiles off their faces.
“I am very happy to be back here. This football club is so close to my heart and have a real affinity with the fans.
“My granddad was a massive Shrewsbury fan and he would be absolutely delighted that I have come home.
“This move felt right. I really followed my heart on this one and I spoke to a lot of people around me who agreed.
“I can fully concentrate on football here and have my home life with my family.
“Everything is completely different to when I left and I hadn’t played at the new stadium before.
“Here does feel like home and I have had a lot of backing by the supporters. Now I need to back that up on the pitch.”