As Gareth Taylor’s City prepare to take on Liverpool in this Thursday’s FA Youth Cup final. our last FA Youth Cup-winning skipper says lifting the trophy in 2008 remains one of the proudest moments of his career.
Ben Mee was the captain of the City side that beat Chelsea 4-2 over two legs to win the trophy for the only the second time in the Club’s history.
He would make only one senior appearance for the team he supported as a boy, before – after a successful loan spells with Leicester and Leicester – joined the Clarets on a permanent deal in 2012.
Mee has now clocked up more than 300 career appearances, mostly Premier League matches, and believes the FA Youth Cup final can be a fantastic launching pad for City’s talented youngsters.
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“For us it was a massive game at the time,” recalled Mee.
“Leading the team out at the Etihad in front of the most fans we’d played in front of and being with a really good group of lads who had been together a while was a very proud moment.
“It’s a great experience because it gets the heart pumping and the adrenaline rushing, plus you have your family members there watching as well which is all part of it, so it’s a special moment.
“It’s one of the high-points of my career and an occasion I remember vividly.
“The season we had as a group was fantastic, but to do things in the youth team just as the first team would do during that run – travel, stay at hotels overnight and suchlike - was a good education for what could lie ahead.
“It was a massive moment in my career and it always will be.”
Mee, who successfully negated the challenge of Gonzalo Higuain and Eden Hazard on Monday evening as he turned in a man-of-the-match performance for Burnley against Chelsea, believes the players should seize the opportunity and enjoy the occasion.
“You’ve got to enjoy the moment but there’s a lot of hard work to come,” he said. “They are finishing as scholars and it’s just the start of a long journey.
“We were fortunate in that myself, Kieran Trippier and Daniel Sturridge have all gone on to have really good careers in the Premier League, but even if that doesn’t happen and it happens at a lower league club instead, as long as you end up having a good career in the game and enjoy playing football, that’s the main thing.
“We don’t play City until Sunday so I’ll definitely be watching the final and will be hoping City win the FA Youth Cup, just as we did in 2008 – and if I can get down watch it in person, I will.
“It’s always a great occasion and because Burnley aren’t involved, I will be cheering City on.”