Football's Dream Factory is a Documentary programme.
Football's Dream Factory
Fifty thousand pounds is a lot of money. It can buy a house, a very nice car, provide a source of income for a family, finance several children through their education, or simply fund some great holidays. Alternatively, it could buy the next Premiership superstar - the next England hero.
Alan Hansen takes a look at the making of a modern-day footballer in "Football's Dream Factory", and discovers that the stakes are high, both financially and emotionally - especially when the going rate for a 10-year-old-child prodigy is between £10,000 - £50,000.
In the most tender years of their lives, Britain's most promising youngsters are scouted and sifted, bought and sold, hothoused in academies and then made to prove themselves in endless 90-minute bursts, until it all fizzles out in their mid-thirties - of they're lucky.
There's never been a better time to be in football but there's never been a tougher time to make it. Some are shown the way to the stars; most are shown the door. The dazzling kid in the school team could end up as Joe Cole or Joe Average. The top players are international commodities, the main beneficiaries of football's global boom. The fans see only the end product. But far away from England's packed Premiership grounds, a parallel industry of talent-spotters and deal-makers is at work, making and breaking dreams.
The programme has interviews with a host of Premiership stars, including Michael Owen, Bobby Robson, David O'Leary, Sol Campbell and Stuart Pearce, as well as footballers who have been through the experience, such as Joe Cole, Jermaine Penant and John Mejicks.
This programme also asks who wields the real power; agents, manufacturing false wonderboys at 10 or even eight; kit manufacturers, hunting the next opop footballer and marketing vehicle; or parents, drunk on tales of instant wealth and celebrity?
The journey ends with 11 men in England shirts: the elite, the best, the chosen ones. It starts with a toddler's clumsy hack at a ball. Modern football is a factory churning out millionaires, but it's a meat market too.
Database last updated: 23 January - 18:05