Efremov, student and teacher in the Yellows Academy
Efremov, student and teacher in the Yellows Academy

The Russian international from Villarreal C is part of the coaching staff for the U8s

Anton Efremov (Nizhny Novgorod, 2003) is one of the Yellows Academy’s top players. The Villarreal C centre-back has become an Under-21 international with Russia and has trained with the Submarine’s first team. In addition, he was one of the players considered by Miguel Álvarez to travel to Switzerland to complete the pre-season with the B team.

Many are the successes that the good Anton is reaping at the age of 20 and those that are still to come due to his short career as a footballer. And now he has decided to combine the demands of playing 90 minutes on the pitch with training as a coach. Since the start of the current season, the Yellows defender has been part of the coaching staff of the U8s (Mini A), one of the Yellows Academy 8-a-side teams, with whom he spends his afternoons at the José Manuel Llaneza Training Ground.

“Two months ago, the Villarreal C coaching staff offered us the opportunity to come here during the afternoons off to work as a coach for the younger boys. I really liked the idea and now I’m part of the process,” says Efremov about his beginnings as a trainer in a top-level youth academy. The solid Russian centre-back was impressed by the level of the youngsters at Miralcamp: “When I came to coach the team for the first time, I really liked the intensity, the attitude of each child. When I saw them competing in a match I really understood that they are one of the best in the Region of Valencia.”

As well as being surprised by the quality and hard work of the children, the young player was also impressed by the knowledge of the coaches at Miralcamp. “Every coach at the youth academy is a great professional who is fully dedicated to his job. When I met the Mini A coaching staff I was very surprised, especially the specific work with each player. For example, running technique or shooting with the weaker foot,” says Efremov, who is also amazed by the concepts being worked on at such a young age and how easy it is to learn. “Lately, we’ve been working on one-on-one concepts, how to defend when the opponent’s back is turned, how to profile or how to use your arms to defend. We are also focusing on pressure after losing the ball in order to win it back quickly. The children learn very quickly and this helps us a lot,” he adds.

A role model for the children

For the Mini A players, having Efremov as their coach, along with Eric Núñez, Silvia Heredia and Rafael González, is a real luxury and a mirror in which they can look at themselves. The children, who are regulars in the stands when the first team or the Mini Submarine plays, have also started to go to the C team’s games to cheer on their coach. “In the last two games, some children have come to see me. They support me a lot and believe in me. I really appreciate it and I try to be a good example for them,” admits the centre-back for Jandro Castro’s team.

Anton Efremov combines his duties as a player and as a coach between the Mini Estadi and the 8-a-side pitches of the José Manuel Llaneza Training Ground; two tasks that fill him with learning and experiences around football.