At the end of the Second World War the FA had decided to organise a Youth Championship for County Associations considering it the best way to stimulate the game among those youngsters not yet old enough to play senior football. The matches did not attract large crowds but outstanding players were selected for Youth Internationals and thousands were given the chance to play in a national contest for the first time. In 1951 it was realised that a competition for clubs would probably have a wider appeal. The FA Youth Challenge Cup (1952–53 season) was restricted to the youth teams of clubs, both professional and amateur, who were members of the FA.
The notion of a youth cup was thought of by Sir Joe Richards, the late President of the Football League. He initially put forward the idea to the league clubs but they were not enthused, Richards then took the idea to the Football Association, who liked the idea and created the competition in the same year. The Youth Cup trophy itself was purchased by the Football League during World War II. However, they never found a use for it. Football League secretary Fred Howarth found the trophy in a cupboard at the Starkie Street office and handed it over to the Football Association.
The tournament has served as a springboard into the professional game for many top British players. The likes of George Best, John Barnes, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Frank Lampard, Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Joe Cole, Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott, Daniel Sturridge, Jack Wilshere, and Gareth Bale had all won the tournament or played in the final. The 1991–92 FA Youth Cup famously spawned the rise of Fergie's Fledglings.