Brighton boy Russell Martin knows there is more than one route to the Premier League.

But producing star players is not the only motive behind the Norwich City skipper’s return to his home town to start a football academy.

Martin is the local boy Albion let get away. He has no hard feelings after a career which has taken him to the top-flight and the Scottish national team.

But he would love to see a few more come through, be it via the Seagulls or his own Russell Martin Academy, which is up and running ready for next season.

Martin’s new venture will provide sessions for all ages at various schools in the Brighton area, including Whitehawk Academy, and will run the Varndean College team.

There will also be Saturday and holiday sessions and an elite development centre.

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Whitehawk and former Crawley favourite Sergio Torres, above, will be Martin’s man on the ground and professional players will host guest sessions.

Martin, who will attend as many sessions as possible, said: “I’m a Brighton boy and I wanted to give something back.

“I never played for the Albion but I grew up here, played youth football here, played for Sussex. I was let go by the Albion at about 17 but I appreciate what the game has given me and this will always be my home town.

“I’ve been speaking to the PFA for a long time about doing this but have not been in a position to get it started. But Sergio being down here – one of my best friends – is someone I can trust.

“He has got great expertise, he is doing his coaching badges now and has got his B licence. We are not competing with anyone. It’s a big city, it’s a one-club city and there are people who don’t get spotted.

“Hopefully we can create some good players in non-league and take them into the professional game as well.”

Both East and West Sussex are way down the league when it comes to producing professional footballers. Martin, who broke into the Football League after being spotted at Lewes by Wycombe, has his own views as to why.

He said: “Sussex hasn’t got a great track record. In the last few years, it has been better in the Premier League with myself, Tommy (Elphick) and Cooky (Steve Cook). Hopefully Dunky (Lewis Dunk) will be the next one with the Albion.

“I think maybe if you aren’t at Brighton down here, you are left alone. I don’t think the London scouts see it as a place they need to come to.”

Martin, 30, is taking his UEFA A coaching licence and is ambitious to move into management eventually.

“I see longevity in it,” he said of the academy. “It carries my name and it has to be credible, it has to be professional, it has to be good. And it will be all those things with the people we have got in place.

“I’ve set up a foundation (a registered charity). If we earn money, it goes into the foundation to support local grass roots coaching and subsidise our coaches going into schools.

The Argus:

Martin has enjoyed success with Norwich - but still sees Brighton as his home 

“It is for local kids, aged five to 16. We want to get them involved in football and, if we can create some players while we are doing it, fantastic. There is a college programme as well so hopefully we create a pathway.

“There can be options to continue their education while playing football. There are some really good players who, even at 16 to 18, have still got a chance. I was playing college football at that age. People develop at different ages.

“We have good links to American colleges as well so there is potential for them to go and get a good education on a sports scholarship.

“The thing we are doing at the college is exciting. We have a lot of speakers coming down – ex-players, people from the nutrition side, sports science, medical, analysis. We are trying to create an elite environment there.”

But it is not just an elite scheme. The aim is also for it to be about enjoyment for hundreds of children with the effervescent Torres at the forefront.

Martin was speaking before England bowed out of Euro 2016 but, at a time when the nation’s failings have again been shown up, his words strike a chord.

“The most important thing is being comfortable with the ball. Sergio is from South America. They have the ball from the age of five or six,” he said.

“You have to be able to handle the ball. That is the way we want to coach. Every player gets a ball at the start of every session.

“I helped the Norwich City academy come up with their programme this year because they didn’t feel it was real enough. I’m kind of bringing that Premier League syllabus to these kids. Why not?

“It’s different ability levels but let’s give them the same opportunity and the same sort of coaching as they get there.”

More details on Martin’s academy can be found at