Spurs under 18’s versus Chelsea: (match preview)

Spurs’ under 18 side will make the fairly short trip to Chelsea’s Cobham training ground on Saturday morning for their Premier League South game with Chelsea (the game starts at 11am). Matt Taylor’s Spurs side last played Chelsea in a competitive game way back in the November of 2019, and on that day Spurs lost the game 5-3, in what was really a game of two halves. Chelsea currently sit in sixth place in the league, four points off of fourth place Spurs. This London derby will be a very competitive game of football, but Spurs have won their last two league games at Cobham, so it will be interesting to see if they can make it three wins in a row there.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala (c), Lusala, Muir, Paskotši, Hackett, Michael Craig, Devine, Mundle, Robson, Mathurin, Scarlett.

Subs from: Maguire, Kyezu, Matthew Craig, Whittaker, Donley.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: Spurs 3-5.

My score prediction: Spurs 4-2.

My one to watch: Chelsea’s top scorer in the league at under 18 level this season – Jude Soonsup-Bell. The 17 year old has scored 12 league goals for Chelsea at this level so far this season. 

My interview with former Spurs player Malcolm Beddows:

A schoolboy with Spurs during the 1980s and 1990’s, skilful and prolific striker Malcolm Beddows would play for Spurs for five years, before unfortunately being released by the club at the age of 15. The former player from Surrey would later have a trial with Chelsea but an injury picked up during his time there stopped them from signing him. However, he did go on to play for Woking for a while, while studying at the same time, but that was to be the last team that Malcolm played for and he retired at the age of 21. Now living and working in Australia, I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with Malcolm as he looked back on his time at Spurs.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Malcolm: I think that would be playing football for the first time as a six year old in my local recreation park in Leatherhead. I was kicking the ball around with my brother and he was teaching how to strike the ball properly. A man by the name of John Brown approached me and asked if I have ever thought about playing football before, and I was like no. John Brown was the manager who ran a local team called Fetcham Park United, and he asked do you want to play for us? That was both exciting and daunting as I’d hadn’t played football with other kids before and I guess I didn’t know if I was any good or not.. So, I went along to a training night, and loved it. I literally got the bug after one training session. 

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?

Malcolm: Playing for my local team Fetcham Park United, who I would have been playing for around three or four years ( alongside Chris Landon – Spurs youth player). I didn’t know at this point that Ted Powell ( head spurs scout) had come down to watch me play for three games and he had obviously contacted the club. I remember him coming up to me after the third game that he watched me in, and I remember how calm hand soft he spoke. He then said that he’d been watching me and he’d been really impressed with my game, positioning, pace, goals and attitude, and he’d like me to come down and have a trial at Tottenham Hotspur. So as a ten year old this was a dream, as a young aspiring football player, and you’re seeing all of these football players on television and then a top Spurs Coach comes down and says do you want to play for Spurs, I couldn’t believe it. Ted Powell then spoke to my mum on the phone and made arrangements, and we went the following Monday from Surrey to London for that first training session at Tottenham. It was great as my school would allow me to leave early.. I remember the smell of the sports centre in Anerley for the first time, the sound of trainers screeching on the floor, and players shouting commands at each-other, the head coaches and the atmosphere being intimidating. This was the moment to prove to yourself, you mum and the coach you deserve to be here amongst all this other great players. That first training session was intimidating but when you walked over the white line and the balls at your feet, your natural ability kicks in, and it then just becomes enjoyable, and you have that sense of freedom and thirst to want to score goals. 

Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?

Malcolm: I was a small skinny kids, but, I was fast and skilful, so I would model myself on players like Gianfranco Zola, Maradona, Zico. But, growing up and watching and hearing the names like Diego Maradona, Zico, Batista, Josimar, John Barnes, Michel Platini, Socratese were all names and heroes to me during the 1986 World Cup, but Zola, John Barnes were players who I admired. It was players who had skill and who had the ball at their feet and could do things that you didn’t think were possible. I loved players who entertained and could also change a game with a moment of magic. So I would say Maradona, Pelé, Zola and John Barnes.

Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?

Malcolm: I was a striker who was fast and was one of the quickest players on the pitch, but I was also skilful, and so I used to model myself on skilful players who weren’t scared to take on defenders. I couldn’t beat a defender for pace, then I could beat them with skills. I also had a good eye for goal and I knew where the goal was. So, as soon as I got the ball my first instinct was, where’s the goal… I used to score a lot of goals so I was a fast and skilful striker with a good eye for goal. 

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Malcolm: I think for me players like Ossie Ardiles, Glenn Hoddle, Chris Waddle who I thought was amazing but, when Paul Gascoigne came along, he blew me away with his skill, balance and contribution to games. I loved watching players play with freedom. So my greatest influences at Spurs was Paul Gascoigne.

Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?

Malcolm: It would have to be Paul Gascoigne, watching someone play with enjoyment inspired me. My game was about self-expression, freedom and enjoyment too, so I think watching someone like him allowed me to believe what was possible on the pitch. 

What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?

Malcolm: I wasn’t a big player and my body wasn’t growing at the rate the club wanted it to grow at, and because I was playing so much sport from a young age my knees were getting really bad. At the age of 15 I was having cartilage problems and my knee was locking, and I can remember playing for Spurs in a game and running for a ball and my knee was locking. I can remember Ted Powell taking me to the teams physio, and we were sitting down in consultation and they were saying that I had torn cartilages in my knees already and I’ll need an operation. I didn’t understand it at the time, but, moments like that sit in your brain and play on your mind. My legs were quite skinny and my knees weak and so the deterioration in my knees was causing me problems. An operation was inevitable. I was having problems with my knees, and my attitude was changing towards football, My discipline had gone and I started missing training sessions (White Hart Lane was so far away from where I lived, and my mum didn’t drive). I also felt I was missing out on my teenage years, things that my friends were doing, they were getting into skateboarding and other types of sports. I didn’t have that disciplinarian in my life to give me guidance, and guide me through some of early life decisions. I wasn’t really able to play other sports like skateboarding, because you’ve got to look after your legs, and at that age you really need support and someone to tell you what the bigger picture is. You need the father figure, the role model, someone who can advise you, but, my father wasn’t involved in my soccer that much as we live apart from each other and passed away when I was 15. So I went through a massive change in myself through losing my father, getting injured, operation and going through my GCSE’s at school. This was a really tough period for me.

The club released me because my discipline had dropped, I was missing training I wasn’t growing at the pace they wanted. Bring released was a massive shock to me and a huge dent in my ego. I had never experienced real rejection at that age, as this was hard to handle and I remember thinking I’ve got to tell everyone. I remember the phone call from Spurs and slumping down on my sofa in tears at the thought of letting my family down.

I spoke to my sports teacher Mr Hill, at Therfield  School a few day’s after and he gave me a lot of support and advice. Two or three weeks later we got a phone call from Chelsea and they had said they had heard that you had left Tottenham and would you like to come down and trial.  After three weeks at Chelsea I got injured again and I remember pulling my groin and thinking maybe my body isn’t up to playing football at this level, I was 15 and continuously getting injured. I stopped playing and concentrated on Art at School and went into sixth form to get my grades so I could go to college. I studied Aerospace engineering, and whilst studying, I played for Woking FC part-time. Woking played in the Capital League on a Wednesday night (I had a few games upfront with Clive Walker), and games on Saturday. It was a really good standard, and a league you see a lot of ex-school boys play in who didn’t quite make the Professional grade. 

Having to leave Spurs must have been incredibly difficult for you. How did you find that?

Malcolm: It was a very difficult moment in my life, so much was going on personally, academically and sporting. I had never felt disappointment like it before, and didn’t really have the support network to handle it. I guess I bottled it up and took up skateboarding – I started expressing myself more creatively at 15 and followed my passion in life! It was hard for a 15 year old to handle all those emotions that come with rejection, trauma and peer pressure. It was really tough and it was a dent in your ego, but getting that call from Chelsea helped bring some of that self confidence back.. 

What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?

Malcolm: It was absolutely life changing, you can’t imagine what happens to a young person mind who’s from a little country village like Leatherhead to get the chance to play for Spurs, one of the biggest teams in Europe. It opened up other opportunities for me, with clubs, travel, friendships, growth and experiences. The club were amazing and were very supportive of me, and Ted Powell was one of the most amazing influences in my life, he gave me the opportunity to change my life. Ted taught me almost everything I know about football today and how to be a better player, how to use my size, my speed and my skills to my advantage. The youth systems are an amazing opportunity for any kid to be a part of something huge, and the professionalism of a club like Spurs is exceptional. Dream come true!

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Malcolm: At the age of 13 I went to America to play in the Dallas Cup (it’s like a youth world cup), you play against other clubs from all over the world. I won a Sports Award and this paid for my trip. I travelled and played in the US with my team at the time, who were Rangeligh. We had won the West Surrey Boys league at the time, and were chosen to represent England. This is a trip which changed my life for many reason. The style of football from other countries was really evident. Especially playing against a team from Mexico. We were able to watch a Brazilian team play, who i believe may have gone on to win the Tournament. I met my hero Pelé at the tournaments opening ceremony and I got a chance to shake his hand, this was a moment I’d never forget.  

Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with? 

Malcolm: I would say that there are two players and the first one is Paul Gascoigne. He came down and coached us one time at Spurs. He didn’t stop smiling when he played, his touch and skills was phenomenal  – it was a joy to watch. Clive Walker, he helped me as a striker when playing at Woking. How to find space, when to make your runs and how to bring other players into the game. 

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the various Tottenham youth teams?

Malcolm: Because we had the two centres at Spurs which were south and north of the river they were always trying to get us together to play against each other. So we used to travel to Cheshunt which was great because we used to get to watch the first team train and also see the first team facilities, and also get to see the first team players. We then got to play against the north side of the river and it was actually a good benchmark to kind of see where we were at as a team, and also where we were as individuals. So it was always a joy to travel up to Cheshunt with Ted and the other lads in the bus, and then also meet and watch the pros train. That was always enjoyable and as was going up to White Hart Lane and training on the Astroturf pitch which was also an absolute joy, but also getting the chance to walk out on to the pitch at White Hart Lane and having that dream of one day playing there was awe inspiring for me. Another great memory was of going to watch the first team play at White Hart Lane, and a memory of mine is going to watch Tottenham play Liverpool, and they gave me two free tickets to go and watch the game. That was the first time that I went to White Hart Lane and understanding the club that I was playing for and as a 12 year old with the potential to play for that team. So walking up those stairs and seeing White Hart Lane packed with 40,000 odd people and then watching that team and thinking wow I wear that kit when I train on a Monday night, that was incredible.

Who was toughest player that you ever came up against?

Malcolm: That’s a hard one because I finished playing quite early, but there was a player whose name I can’t remember, and when I was playing for Woking we played against Wycombe Wanderers. He used to play left back for Blackburn Rovers and I just couldn’t get past him, and for all of the pace and skill that I had he was too strong. It was my one stumbling block in my career where I just couldn’t get past a player for speed, skill and strength as he read me like a book. I think I asked the coach If I could switch sides and play on the left – haha!!

Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?

Malcolm: Chris Landon, Danny Bolt and Danny Smith were players who I was close with and they were my core friends. Chris was a great mate and I still speak with him on Facebook which is amazing. Me and Chris also played Sunday football together, so, we literally grew up together. 

What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

Malcolm: My advice would be to try and prepare yourself mentally, to really listen to the people around you and build a good support network. Stop thinking as an individual and think as a team player, and although you may possess individual skills, you are only going to make it if you understand what it is to be a team player. You need to be mentally strong but you also have to enjoy what you do and don’t be restricted by club culture, respect it, and try and fit your game around it. It’s a job, you have to make management happy, work hard and enjoy it. It’s easy to get lost in the EGO, but, if you can control that, you’ll go a long way. Never stop growing and listening, and take as much advice as you can from the people who has been in the game or coached. Listening to people was my worst trait, as I thought I knew it all. Understand the position and opportunity you have in life and snatch it with both hands. Also understand that a football career is short and that injuries can stop your career tomorrow, so just enjoy every single moment that you have on that football pitch, but, also look beyond football. What other interests do you have in life – nurture them too.. Good Luck!! 

After all these years how do you look back on your time at the Lilywhites and is Spurs a club who you still hold close to your heart?

Malcolm: My time at Spurs changed my life in so many ways, some indescribable, it changed my relationship and it gave my mum something to be proud of. I look back on my time there as an incredible experience, a dream come true, and although I’m not a Tottenham fan I still watch them and want them to do well. Even just hearing the name Tottenham Hotspur means so much to me emotionally that they will be in my heart. I coached my son’s U10 team here in Sydney, and I often think; how would Ted have taken this session..

My interview with former Spurs player John Cook:

(John is pictured above. He is pictured last on the left of the front row.) 

John Cook played primarily at left of midfield and centre-midfield during his time at Spurs as a youth player in the early 1970’s. An energetic midfield player, John Cook had the chance to sign for local club West Ham United as a youngster, but instead chose to join Bill Nicholson’s Spurs. After leaving Spurs John went on to play for the likes of Grays Athletic, Tilbury and Walton & Hersham before going on to have a successful business career. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with John as he looked back on his time at Spurs which is almost 50 years ago.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

John: I used to live in Dagenham and my earliest memories were just playing football every minute of the day. I used to live opposite a park and I played for a team called Rippleway Newham and they were a fabulous team with six different levels of age groups, and so I used to play for them. So from my youth I was playing for Barking Boys a year earlier and then I played for London Boys at 15, and playing for London Boys I can remember playing at Upton Park. We were playing Liverpool Boys at Upton Park and interestingly all of my family were West Ham supporters, and so it was great to play at Upton Park. I can remember after the game which was a floodlit game, that we came off the pitch and went up to this sort of reception area where they had teas and coffees, and I can remember Ron Greenwood coming up to myself and my dad. He said to us that he knew that I was thinking of going to Spurs but we’d like you to sign for West Ham if you’d like to, but I declined and the rest is history. 

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?

John: The scout there at Spurs was called Dickie Walker and he would say all the right things to my dad, and I was an only child. He used to come and watch all the games that I played for my district teams which was Essex Boys and London Boys and so he used to always be there. He used to take my father to watch games and a chauffeur car would come and collect him from Dagenham and take him to a game. Interestingly I wasn’t looking to travel that far but Gary Anderson was in my district team along with me, and so we both decided to go to Spurs and travel together. We used to get on the train from Barking to South Tottenham and then the bus from there to White Hart Lane, so it was quite a long journey for us. Training at Spurs was great with Tony Want and John Pratt, and I went on to sign apprentice professional with Spurs in 1972 which was exciting beyond belief as I always wanted to be a professional footballer. Although Pat Welton didn’t warm to me at Spurs and there is no two ways about that, and whatever I did in training was not good enough, even though I got great encouragement off of the players, who would tell me that I was a good player and that I could succeed. So my time at Spurs was an interesting 16 months and we had a very good side and I did enjoy my time there, but obviously the time came when my contract ended and Bill Nicholson decided that he wasn’t going to sign me for the next year. So that was devastating at the time.

Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?

Jonn: He was only at Spurs for a little while but Graeme Souness was an incredible player and to me he epitomised the true footballer. His grit, determination and skill were brilliant, and in training it was just wonderful to watch him do some of the skills that he did, as well as his passing and his tackling. Graeme was to me the all round footballer and it was a shame that he left the club and went to Middlesbrough and the rest is history. Also, Alan Gilzean even though he played as a centre-forward had skill that was unbelievable and I can remember watching him one morning at Cheshunt, and he had ten footballs on the 18 yard line and he chipped every single one onto the crossbar. In today’s world he would be a brilliant player even though he wasn’t fast, but because his knowledge and his talent was just sublime. That’s how the Spurs team played back then and actually the training drill for the Spurs first team was quite straightforward and very direct and I can remember watching it so many times. It was Jennings out to Phil Beal or Cyril Knowles, and they would roll it out generally and get it to Martin Chivers who would generally chest it down to a midfield player like John Pratt or Steve Perryman, and then they’d be off. It was a routine that they used to practice and practice, and practice and so that was always interesting. So Gilly and Souness were my heroes at Spurs and in any team.

 Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?

John: I either played at left of midfield or centre midfield, and so I was quite industrious and I felt that I was always good at going from defence to attack. So my strongest position was left of midfield and cutting in and having 25 yards out efforts on goal with my right foot, and so left of midfield was my favourite position. I continued to play that position after leaving Spurs, and I’m only five foot, seven, so I wasn’t a tall player but it was always my position and so I could kick with both feet and I was a pretty good tackler, and I also had a strong engine.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

John: I think that John Pratt was just great and he had so much time for us and so he was just great, but also playing with some of our own players was great. I used to love watching John Margerrison and he was a strong player, also Danny Clapton and Chris McGrath were other players who were good to watch. So it was good to watch them because playing with your peers did influence you in the way that you played, and Danny Clapton and Chris McGrath were a year older than me and so that one year made a lot of difference. So playing with those guys was really inspirational and enjoyable, and I learnt a lot from them. Also, Steve Perryman is in the top three of my influences at Spurs because I played in his position and he was the ultimate professional.

Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?

John: As I say Souness was a classic and I’d watch him regularly in training when I could, and I’d sit on the sidelines after we’d finished training along with the others and watch the reserves. At Cheshunt you had the first team pitch and then you had the pitch where the reserves would play, and the interesting thing at that era was that you had the reserves winning the Football Combination by something like 15 or 20 points, and the reserve team at that time was absolutely unbelievable. They won everything and in fact I can recall a funny situation where there would be a match between the reserves and the first team and this happened on a number of occasions, and the reserves might have been three or four up and Eddie Baily would stop the game and do a penalty shootout just to see who was going to win. So the reserves were just brilliant and Souness was my hero at Spurs. 

What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?

John: So when the day approached when I knew that I wasn’t going to be signed to a full professional then I recall that Southend were looking for youth players from the London clubs, and so I was offered the opportunity to go to Southend but I didn’t go. Once I left Spurs I ended up having a trial with Leyton Orient and I spent about two or three weeks training with them to see if they were going to sign me as a pro, and they only wanted a couple of players but they were looking for a midfield player. Unbeknown to me at the time the guy who was trialling at the same time as me to sign pro ended up getting that position was in fact Glenn Roeder, who went on to be a great footballer and a good manager. So I didn’t make it at Leyton Orient because of Glenn Roeder taking the position from me, and then from there I decided that I was going to have six months out of football because I was somewhat despondent. So at 17 I packed my bags and flew to Corfu in Greece and I ended driving speedboats on Dassia beach hotel, and so as a 17 year old you can imagine that I had great fun. And funnily enough Graeme Souness turned up at my hotel where I was working and we had a bit of fun, and so that was quite nice. But when I got back home from Corfu I had a run of many clubs in the amateur world to be fair, and so at 18 I joined my first club which was Grays Athletic who I spent a season at. I then went to Tilbury who I also spent a season at before going to a club who I had my best period at which was Walton & Hersham in Surrey, and I played with a guy called Brendan Bassett who was an England amateur international, and so anyway I spent two seasons there, and I really enjoyed that period of time. Then my last amateur club in top rank was Dagenham & Redbridge who I played for, and at 26/27 I decided that that was my lot at that level and so I ended up playing top class Sunday football, where I ended up playing with Peter Taylor over in Essex. 

Peter Taylor was a great player and you talk about players who had skill but Peter’s left foot was the best that I’ve ever seen, and so I played with him for a season and I loved it, but really that was it in terms of my football prowess.

Having to leave Spurs must have been incredibly difficult for you. How did you find that?

John: On reflection it was probably one of the worst things that’s ever happened to me in terms of rejection, and rejection is what it is. You know that you have got the skill, you know that you are as good as some of those players and you believe in yourself but then it’s just taken away from you, and for a couple of weeks your life feels like it’s on hold, and it’s like what are you going to do now. It’s an awful feeling and I feel so sorry for youngsters coming through the ranks now because I went through that, and it was an awful time.

 What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?

John: I mentioned earlier about playing for London Boys at Upton Park and my family being West Ham supporters through and through. If I’m brutally honest in hindsight which is a wonderful thing, then I should have shaken Ron Greenwood’s hand and signed for West Ham, but I didn’t. So my time at Spurs was a great learning curve and a great opportunity to grow John Cook as a person, but it was disappointing and maybe I could have done better. I watched Mark Wright the other night on television and he’s not a lot different to me as he’s an Essex lad who has come through the ranks but he also had that sadness, but did I apply myself 100%? Maybe not, and maybe I could have done better. In my Barking team there were three of us who turned apprentice pros, and they were me, Gary Anderson and a guy called Richie Powling who was the centre-half with Tony Adams at Arsenal for four seasons, and so he did the best out of all of us. I can remember playing for Barking Boys against Huyton Boys in the English Schools semi-final under floodlights, and there were 11,000 people there watching that game at Anfield. I can remember when I was just about to come out on the pitch and I got a telegram from Bill Nicholson wishing me well, and so when you get that adulation as a youngster then you think that it’s going to transpire in to your adult life, but unfortunately life isn’t like that. I’m never going to reflect back on if only I’d done this or if only I’d done that, yes I have regrets on certain things but it made me the man that I am today. 

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

John: I suppose it was when I played at Anfield with Barking, and it was 0-0 with about 20 minutes to go and there was 11,000 people there including our families. We had a free-kick from about 26 yards out from the Kop end and I was the free-kick specialist, and I just put it in to the top right hand corner, and to score that goal at Anfield was just the most amazing thing, and so that was the most memorable day of my life. 

 Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with? 

John: Truthfully the best player that I have ever played against was Brian Flynn who was a Welsh player and future Wales manager, and I played against him and we were marking each other and he made my life a misery that day. He was unbelievable and so he was the best player that I’ve ever played against on a pitch.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the various Tottenham youth teams?

John: I think that obviously every Saturday morning playing at Cheshunt was always a great feeling but I can’t look back and say that game was special, because every game that I played at Cheshunt or away was always special, and it was great to put that white shirt on, as well as those blue shorts and white socks. That was just wonderful to put on, but I’ve got no particular game but it was just euphoric every time that I put the Spurs shirt on and that is the honest truth. Also going back after the game and having to watch the first team play which we always had to do as apprentices and pros if they were at home, that was always a memorable thing. So a Saturday for me playing football in the South East Counties League at Cheshunt and then coming to watch the first team play in the afternoon was the perfect day.

 Who was toughest player that you ever came up against?

John: I think that the hardest guy that I played against was a little guy at Spurs called Phil Holder and he was one of the hardest players that I’ve ever played against. But in training it had to be Graeme Souness, but in match games he was the hardest player that I’ve ever played with and against.

 Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?

John: At the time me and Bobby Scarth were always close and I was also good friends with John Margerrison, and also Roger Gibbins who was a good player who did well. When you look at our youth team and you think about who made it you had Roger Gibbins, John Margerrison Keith Osgood who was a good player and defender. So to be fair we were a really strong group and we were all a pretty tight knit family.

 What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

John: I think that you’ve got to be very grounded and realise that there’s thousands of footballers that want to be a professional footballer, and so my thoughts are keep your feet on the ground and work 100% because the only people that make it are the people who don’t come off the training ground when the whistle blows. So stay on there and do extra things, and so you only have to look back on players like Ronaldo, Messi and Beckham and even Glenn Hoddle, and all of these players have stayed on the training ground longer than they need to or have got there earlier. So it’s all about determination and it’s all about focus, so just push yourself because it’s only a small window to get to being an apprentice and then a pro. Once you’re a pro then you’ve just got to keep working hard, and so my advice is to just keep working hard and being determined and put 110% effort in, because today 100% is not enough.

 After all these years how do you look back on your time at the Lilywhites and is Spurs a club who you still hold close to your heart?

John: They are the only club that I watch and they are the only team that I watch on television, and I’ve still got a great soft spot for Spurs more than any other club because I spent a lot of time there from being a 14 year old training there as a schoolboy to becoming a professional. So I’ve got a lot of love for Spurs and I wish them all the very best, and they are close to my heart. 

Spurs under 18’s versus Aston Villa: (match preview)

After losing 5-0 away to Fulham on Wednesday in the league, Spurs’ under 18 side face Aston Villa on Saturday (the game starts at 12:00pm). It’s third versus fourth in the Premier League South at Aston Villa’s training ground, with Spurs currently one point behind Aston Villa on 25 points, and Aston Villa actually beat Spurs 2-0 in the reverse fixture earlier on in the season despite playing with ten men for a fair bit of that game. Aston Villa have won eight, drawn two and lost just one of their 11 league games this season, and they currently have a very good chance of winning the Premier League South this season. It will be interesting to see whether Dane Scarlett who is Spurs’ top scorer at this level this season will play, after he missed the Fulham game because he was with the first team. This will be an interesting but very tough game for Spurs, but I would like to wish them all the very best of luck for the match. 

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala (c), Cassanova, Muir, Paskotši, Hackett, Devine, John, Mathurin, Robson, Santiago, Scarlett.

Subs from: Hayton, Matthew Craig, Mundle, Whittaker, Donley.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: Spurs 0-2.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1

My one to watch: Brad Young. The 18 year old forward is Aston Villa’s top scorer in the league this season with ten goals.

My interview with former Spurs player Dean Harding:

Dean Harding was a highly skilful winger who could operate on either flank (he did predominantly play at right-midfield), and while he is of slight build he was just such an intelligent player who had great ability on the ball (Dean was in the same age group as Ledley King and Peter Crouch at Spurs). The Enfield born former player who outside of Spurs was coached by former Spurs player Andy Rollock who he speaks so highly of, was unfortunately not offered YTS by Spurs and after eight years with Tottenham Dean left the club at the age of 16 in the late 1990’s. However, he went on to have spells with Barnet and Southend United before playing for the likes of Hemel Hempstead and Arlesey Town in the non-League. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with Dean, as he looked back on his eventful time at Spurs.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Dean: That would probably be playing for Enfield Rangers where so many of the lads were at Spurs and Enfield Rangers was the team back in the day, and we won everything there. I can remember playing against Peter Crouch (he was about two foot taller than everybody else) at Craven Cottage in the Middlesex County Cup final but we lost to West Middlesex Colts and Crouch scored against us and scored two, and obviously then years later I went to play with him for Spurs. So my earliest memories would be growing up with Enfield Rangers and then also joining Spurs and growing up there, and because I wasn’t the biggest lad in the world Spurs really tried to strengthen me up. Also, Des Bulpin (coach) who came from QPR used to encourage me to eat loads to help me to strengthen up.

 What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?

Dean: Well I’m a big Arsenal fan so that was a bit weird, but it was good to join and when I first joined Spurs it was amazing and I think that eight of our team from Enfield Rangers were at Spurs, and in the end I think that I was the last one left. One of my first memories was playing over at Mill Hill which was the first training ground, and then one year I can remember that only two of us got a two year contract and that was me and Ledley King, but then no one else got one as everyone only got a one year contract, so it was going really well. One of my earliest memories was training on a Tuesday and Thursday in the gym at White Hart Lane and the training was from seven until nine. I used to have to go straight from school at Bishops Stopford’s School and go straight to Green street and get the 279 bus straight to the main stadium. I would then walk into the main entrance and past Rudolph’s and past the security guard, and then I’d go in to train. I used to train with Robbie Stepney and so when I got there they used to say Deano, Robbie says to go upstairs, and so I’d go up to the coaches office and go in. And my dad used to say to me you’re there like half an hour early and what do you when you’re waiting for Robbie? And I said that I used to just have a cup of tea with this old guy as he makes me a cup of tea and then we talk about football, and so my dad would ask what’s his name and I’d say I don’t know as it’s just got consultant on his door, and he’s really old but he knows lots about football. This went on for about 18 months reckons my dad and then one day when we were over at the training ground I was standing with my dad and watching the lads play, as I was injured. And then this old man was walking across the training ground and so I said to my dad that that was the guy that I speak to, and so he said don’t be silly Dean as that’s Bill Nicholson!

When I signed my contract at the Bill Nicholson suite I asked my dad is that who it’s named after, and my dad said yes Dean that’s who it’s named after, but as a young lad then I just didn’t know. Another story was one time I had come down from training and it was just after the World Cup and there was a guy standing there and I was just going to the canteen to have a cheese sandwich, and then this guy said to me that you’re a very good player, and very quick and move the ball well. I was like thanks, and so I said to my dad who’s that? And he said I don’t know and I’m not sure who he is, and I was like me neither. Colin Reid who was my coach at the time came up to me and said do you know who that is? And so I said no, and then he said that’s Ilie Dumitrescu and he’s just waiting to sign his contract here, and earlier he had watched some of the lads play, and so that was a nice thing. Growing up at Spurs you used to see so many great things that it was unbelievable.

Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?

Dean: Growing up I suppose Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Paul Gascoigne who was a nice guy at Spurs and Teddy Sheringham was also a nice guy, were people that I liked. And also Anders Limpar was one of my favourite players of all time and he was unbelievable, but if I wasn’t at Spurs playing then I was over at Highbury watching Arsenal play, which was a bit strange. Teddy Sheringham was one of the nicest people that I’ve ever met and one of the best that I’ve ever seen, and his finishing was just another level. 

 Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?

Dean: We used to play 4-4-2 most of the time and Spurs used to play me at right- midfield, although I could also play on the left as well. I suppose that I was a quick and skilful attacking player who worked hard, and also had an eye for goal.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Dean: I looked up to a player called Simon Spencer and actually Steve Perryman said to my dad that he is the best player that he had ever seen in his life, and that he had never seen anything like it in football. But he had the worst attitude you’ll ever see in your life, and he was a first team player in the first team training and he’d walk off the first team training pitch at Chigwell and stand next to my dad and just watch me play. When he got released by Spurs because they couldn’t put up with him he actually went to Crewe and my dad actually took him up there. So he went and played a game for them in pre-season against Liverpool, and so he went up there and played that game which was on live television. He nutmegged Steve McManaman and then McManaman came back at him, but then he nutmegged him again and passed it all the way out to the left-back. After the game Crewe said that they wanted to offer him a contract, but he said nah I’m going to do painting and decorating now as I prefer doing that, but he was the best player that I’ve ever seen! Another influence on me at Spurs was probably James Bunn who was a striker, and he was a great player, and then obviously I looked up to Ledley as well because he was just unbelievable.

Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?

Dean: There was a player called Wayne Vaughan and he was a year above me and like me he wasn’t big, but he had so much tenacity and he just used to work so hard. So I always used to look at him and I always wanted to be more like him.

What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?

Dean: Well in the end I got released by Spurs and I then went to Barnet, because Tommy Cunningham who was a coach at Spurs left them about two months before I was released. So he rang me and said come to Barnet, and so I went there for a bit but it didn’t work out and so then I went to Southend which was luckily where my auntie lived, so that worked out. So I lived there for a while and Southend offered me a contract but the money just didn’t even add up to be honest, and I don’t think that the money that they offered me would have even paid for the petrol for my car. Looking back I probably should have seen the bigger picture, but it just wasn’t for me to be honest, and then obviously I didn’t sign for Southend so I then went to Ware which was a local team to me. I played for Ware in the first team and really enjoyed it actually, and then I got signed by Hemel Hempstead who were absolutely flying and I just couldn’t get off the bench and in to the team as they were unbelievable. So after about four months there I’d had enough and so I signed for Arlesey in Bedfordshire, and so I went and played there for four or five years with the likes of Dave Kitson and Craig Mackail-Smith. So we had some really good players there.

Having to leave Spurs must have been incredibly difficult for you. How did you find that?

Dean: To be honest it broke my heart and I didn’t really want to play football that much afterwards for a while, as I was really upset as bearing in mind I had grown up there. One of my footballing memories which I’ll always remember that was quite sad was that I played for Bishops Stopford’s School, and we got to the cup final against Enfield Grammar who would always win everything, but we won 3-0 in the final. I scored a goal in the final and then afterwards Mr Williams who was the PE teacher took everyone out for a McDonald’s to celebrate, and I can remember all of the lads going on the bus but I was waiting to go to Spurs to train, so those kind of things stay in your memory. So as a youngster that was heartbreaking, but that’s what you had to sacrifice to try and make it I suppose and play football.

 What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?

Dean: I absolutely loved every minute of it, from game days to training in the week and also half-terms at the training ground. And in pre-seasons we would go around the stadium pitch at White Hart Lane and do laps around the pitch, and I remember when they had the sprinklers on and they were like a full on hose! I can also remember running up and down the steps in the stadium and also being around the first team players as well which was nice. So it was brilliant and I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Dean: I would probably say when I went to Arlesey and we won the Ryman Division three, and I know that wasn’t at Spurs but it was probably my greatest achievement, and the team there was unbelievable. So that season was the best season of my life. Then at Spurs I suppose that probably getting the two year contract was brilliant and was a great moment for me.

 Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with? 

Dean: I would say Ledley King or Dave Kitson who was also a really good player, and also Peter Crouch who when he was younger was actually not that good in the air. He was so slight and he wasn’t big in the end, and I can remember once that as a joke our coach at Spurs Colin Reid asked us to both go up against the wall, and one of the players had used a pen to draw around our knees, and in the end my legs were wider than his! But technically Peter was a brilliant player.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the various Tottenham youth teams?

Dean: When I was at school I did work experience and I got to go in and do two weeks with the YTS lads at Spurs, as I has said to Robbie Stepney could I do my work experience at Spurs. When I turned up there I was expecting him to ask me to work in the ticket office or something, but he said get your kit as you are training with the YTS lads, and I was only 14/15 at the time. So I went and did my two weeks of work experience there and I also went to Cambridge United away with them in the FA Youth Cup which was nice. Also, the story about Bill Nicholson is obviously a really good one and it was great when I realised who he was, and then I also remember that once I had to go to the stadium from the training ground, which was where I met my dad, as before meeting him I had to talk to someone about a diet or something. Back then you used to be able to go across the road to Hotspur Café to sign for your food, and so that was where I met my dad. Then afterwards we were coming back and just walking past Rudolph’s, and back then I had hair like Gareth Gates, and as we were doing a left into the main entrance Teddy Sheringham was pulling out and he said Deano, and I looked at him and said alright. Then he pretended to do his hair and my dad was just standing there watching, but to me Teddy Sheringham was just like a normal guy. Another memory was of my dad taking me to Chigwell to watch the under 18’s play, as I wasn’t playing at the time. Then at half-time I went up to get a coffee and as I was walking back down Chris Hughton who was the coach at the time said to me did I have my kit, and I was like nah. As there were two players who had gotten injured in the warmup he had asked me to go up to the changing rooms, and so I had to see Roy Reyland and he sorted me out a kit, and so I went on the bench for the game against Arsenal in the South East Counties League, which was nice for me. I also got to wear Ruel Fox’s boots  as they were the only ones that would fit me.

I can remember when I was about 13 that Joe Cole came down to train with us but Spurs weren’t trialling him as he could choose wherever he wanted to go. He was unbelievable and was one of the best players that I’ve ever seen as he was so skilful, and I can remember that some of the other lads didn’t like him and so they gave him a bit of a hard time on the pitch, which wasn’t on, but he was just unbelievable. Another memory which stands out from my time at Spurs was seeing a player get carried off in a wheelbarrow at Mill Hill, which was incredible. Also, I can remember up at the Astroturf pitch at White Hart Lane that they were working on Paul Gascoigne’s heading, and somebody had tied a Mars bar from the roof onto a piece of string for him to try and get up to. 

 Who was toughest player that you ever came up against?

Dean: That would have to be Ashley Cole when I was at Arsenal, but I actually played for Arsenal twice when I was on Spurs’ books. I played for Spurs against Millwall but this was not too long after I had joined the club, and this game was at Mill Hill. Later that night an Arsenal scout had called my Sunday manager called Alan and said that he wanted Dean to play for us tomorrow against Cambridge United. So I remember my dad going out to the hallway to get the phone and he then came in and asked me if I wanted to play for Arsenal tomorrow against Cambridge United, and I was like yeah. They were playing at London Colney and so I went up there the next day and the difference between the Arsenal and Spurs setup then was unbelievable. You had all your kit set out and a towel with it and so in them days it was just so different at Arsenal, but anyway I played at left-midfield at that time and I think that Ashley Cole played at full-back. So then I played again for Arsenal in another game which I shouldn’t have done, and this was against a team called Pegasus and there was a player playing for them called James Harper who would go on to play for Reading. The next day my dad had Spurs on the phone and I think that it even ended up at the FA as Tottenham had reported Arsenal to the FA and so my dad had quite a few phone calls to deal with. But for me that was quite a good experience to play for Arsenal.

 Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?

Dean: Me and Glenn Poole got on really well and he went on to play for Brentford, and I also got on well with James Bunn who was older than me. I also got on quite well with Ledley King and I remember once at the end of training that I managed to get past him really well and scored, and then Colin Reid said right we’ll finish there and that will do, and so that’s my claim to fame! I’m also in Ledley’s book and he says in the book that he doesn’t even think that Lionel Messi would have made it at Spurs back in the day, because they wanted strong players. He mentions in the book that Spurs had this player called Dean who was really slight but he was literally like Iniesta or Xavi. So that was nice.

 What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

Dean: My advice is be able to look back and say that you gave it your all and that I couldn’t have done anymore. Cherish every minute of playing because it’s over before you know it, and also to play with a smile on your face.

 After all these years how do you look back on your time at the Lilywhites and is Spurs a club who you still hold close to your heart?

Dean: Not really because I’m a big Arsenal fan! But there is always a big part of me that appreciates my time there and the stuff I learnt, and also the education that I got. So there is a part of me that will always like Spurs.

Spurs under 18’s versus Fulham: (match preview)

Matt Taylor’s Spurs under 18 side return to league action on Wednesday afternoon (the game starts at 13.00pm) after having not played a league game for a little while. Spurs will travel to New Malden in Surrey, where they will play Fulham at the London School of Economics Sports Ground. Spurs occupy fourth place in the Premier League South, but are only one point behind Fulham who are in second place on 26 points. Spurs’ last competitive game which was against Brighton at Hotspur Way saw them come from behind to win 2-1 thanks to a late winner from midfielder Max Robson, a player who actually came off the bench last weekend to make his competitive under 23 debut for Spurs. Fulham have only lost two of their last ten league games at this level, and they have recorded impressive victories over Chelsea and Aston Villa in that time. Fulham have goals in their side through the likes of the prolific Jay Stansfield, top scorer this season Mika Bierith and the creative Oliver O’Neill who is also really good from set pieces. This will be another tough and very competitive game for Spurs, but they did beat Fulham 3-0 in the reverse fixture at Hotspur Way earlier on in the season. I would like to wish Spurs all the very best of luck for Saturday’s game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala (c), Lusala, Muir, Paskotši, Hackett, Matthew Craig, Michael Craig, Mathurin, Robson, Santiago, Whittaker.

Subs from: Hayton, Cesay, Cassanova, Mundle, Donley.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: Spurs 3-0.

My score prediction: Spurs 3-2.

My one to watch: Fulham’s prolific centre-forward Jay Stansfield (18) who scored 22 leagues goals at under 18 league level last season.

Spurs under 23’s versus Everton: (match preview)

It’s second place versus fifth place in the Premier League 2 division one table on Friday (the game starts at 12pm), as Spurs’ under 23 side host Everton at Hotspur Way. Wayne Burnett’s side come in to this game on the back of a five game unbeaten run, an unbeaten run from which they have picked up 11 points from. Everton went on a similarly good run up until they lost 3-1 to Manchester City in their last league game. These two sides met earlier on in the season in Southport last October, the score that day finished 0-0, but Spurs did dominate that game at times but neither side could score that all important goal on the day. David Unsworth’s Everton side have been very difficult to beat in recent years for Spurs, in fact since the Premier League 2 started for the 2016/17 season Spurs have only won one of eight meetings with Everton. A well structured side who have in fact won  the Premier League 2 division one title before, Unsworth’s side play good football and are good at keeping the ball and at defending. Everton’s top scorer at under 23 level this season Ellis Simms (he scored eight goals for their under 23 side) joined League One side Blackpool on loan last month so he won’t be playing on Friday. However, Everton do still have goals in their side with the likes of forward Nathan Broadhead and defender Thierry Small all chipping in with some goals so far this season. Spurs’ top scorer at this level this season is Kion Etete who was deservedly nominated for the January Premier League 2 player of the month award recently. Friday’s game will be an interesting one, and like Spurs’ last two league games it could be another very close game of football. I would like to wish Wayne Burnett’s side all the very best of luck for the game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Oluwayemi, Lavinier, Lyons-Foster (c), Omole, Markanday, Marsh, Bowden, Scarlett, Devine, Bennett, Etete.

Subs from: Kurylowicz, Muir, John, Thorpe, Mukendi.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: 0-0.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: Everton’s 22 year old former Wales under 21 international Nathan Broadhead, who has five league goal contributions (three goals and two assists) for Everton’s under 23 side so far this season.

My interview with former Spurs player Luke Young:

Luke Paul Young was a good and versatile defender who came through the various youth ranks and the reserves at Spurs during the 1990’s, before going on to play football at a vey high level throughout the entirety of his footballing career. The younger brother of Neil Young who also played for Spurs as a youth player, Luke signed for Spurs as a trainee in the summer of 1995 (he had signed as a schoolboy two years earlier, but had already been at Spurs for a while before that.) and would later sign professional forms with the club two years later. A good and technical defender, Young was also dominant in the air and he was an intelligent defender, plus he could also play anywhere across the back four, as well as being able to play a defensive midfield role. From Harlow in Essex, Spurs fan Luke Young would make his competitive debut for Spurs’ first team  in a Premier League game against West Ham United in the November of 1998, and he would go on to play over 60 more games for them during his time in north London. Young left Spurs to join Charlton Athletic in 2001, and he would go on to have a really good career in the game, playing also for Middlesbrough, Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers, the player who was a former England youth international would also play for his country at the highest level on seven occasions. Luke now works as a consultant at interEuropean football agency and his Instagram account is @lyoung_intereuropean. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with Luke, as he talked about his time at Spurs during the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Luke: My earliest memories of football would be going to watch my older brother play for the local Sunday team called Spartak, and I always remember it because they had a similar kit to Barcelona. I would have been about six or seven years old, and I always had a football at the end of my foot then, and I was watching my brother play every weekend before I was sort of old enough to play myself. Professional wise I liked watching football as a young kid, and the first sort of memories that I’ve got of that are the 1986 World Cup and that was a great World Cup, and I remember trying to be like the Brazilian midfield player Sócrates, and also Maradona was obviously unbelievable in that World Cup. Even though I was already hooked on football that kind of cemented it I think.

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?

Luke: I joined Spurs as a ten year old and we used to train once a week on a Monday night in what I can only describe as basically a car park, so like a match day car park, which I don’t think would be allowed nowadays, but I used to really enjoy those sessions and learning my trade once a week. I actually went into West Ham before about a month before I went to Spurs but I never really enjoyed it, so I was absolutely delighted as a Spurs fan when Tottenham asked me to come in. I always remember playing as a ten year old and putting the kit on for one of my first ever games for Tottenham, and putting that Tottenham kit on as a ten year old was brilliant, and we played against Brentford I’ll always remember, so they were good times.

Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?

Luke: Growing up I was always Gary Lineker in the garden, even before he joined Spurs due to his England exploits. Later on when I got a bit more knowledgable about Tottenham Paul Gascoigne came on the scene, and what a terrific player he was and you’d pay your money just to go and watch him, and I managed to do that a couple of times at White Hart Lane. Also from that Spurs side I liked Chris Waddle and I thought that he was excellent for us, but moving on to when I got in the youth team I remember seeing Gary Mabbutt lying on the treatment table and I think that he was getting both of his ankles strapped. He also had to have insulin injections for his diabetes, and he was at least 35 at the time and what he went through to get on the pitch and as a proper captain of the club he was a real inspiration for me to see someone go through that sort of desire to get himself out on the pitch, and I found that absolutely inspirational, so that was another player that I enjoyed watching.

 Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?

Luke: I guess I was quite a versatile player even in the youth team, and I probably think that I just scraped in getting a schoolboy contract and YTS, and I was never one of those players that everyone thought watch this space, he’s going to be the next so and so. So I had to work at my game and luckily for me I had a real good work ethic in training and I always trained 100% and it gave it my best in every single game that I played in, which I think probably helped me to progress and develop as a player as quickly as I could. I played a lot at left-back or centre-back and at right-back and right wing-back, all in the youth team and in the reserves. I think that what gave me my chance in the first team was that I was playing centre-back in the reserves for about five or six games, and then all of the first team centre-backs got injured. So that gave me my chance and I hadn’t even trained with the first team and I got called over on a Thursday and played that Saturday at West Ham away, next to Sol Campbell. Being in that first team dressing room and putting on my boots and shin pads it just felt so surreal at 19 years of age. So I ended up playing everywhere apart from my real position which was right-back, and that was obviously due to the fantastic form and fantastic player that he was at the club in Stephen Carr, who at the time I think was probably the best right-back in the league. 

Could you talk me through your Spurs debut against West Ham in the November of 1998 and how it came about?

Luke: So I hadn’t even trained with the first team before and all of the centre-backs got injured, and i trained on the Thursday and then on the Saturday morning I tuned up at White Hart Lane obviously in the squad. George Graham turned the clipboard over and my name was there next to Sol Campbell’s, so that was an amazing feeling and there was a lot of nerves and butterflies in the belly. I think that we were 2-1 down in the game and then we got a corner and it came out to the edge of the box, and it fell to me and I chested it and caught a bit of a half volley and Shaka Hislop just got a little finger on it and touched it onto the crossbar. So that would have been an unbelievable debut for me, but unluckily we lost that but I went on to play quite a few games on a run after that where we were undefeated for a while. So I think that my second game was in the quarter-finals of the League Cup against Man United at White Hart Lane which was a special night for me making my home debut in such a big competition against such a big team and managing to beat them, and there was an absolutely unbelievable atmosphere that night. 

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Luke: I was really lucky at Spurs to have some great coaches all of the way through really, and I had some really good youth coaches such as Bobby Arber and Patsy Holland and Des Bulpin. Then into the reserves you had someone like Chris Hughton who has gone on to be a fantastic Premier League manager, so it was a really good grounding at Spurs and I learnt how to become a footballer and how to deal with certain aspects of playing the game. I couldn’t have asked for anything more as my development and education as a footballer at Tottenham was fantastic. 

Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?

Luke: Obviously being a right-back and being three or four years younger than Stephen Carr, as I said I think that he was the best defender in the league at the time. So I used to watch him and his work rate and the way that he would train and put everything into it, and I used to go up against him in sprints to see how far off pf him I was. So I saw that as the level that you sort of had to try and get to if you’re  going to have a career in the Premier League, and so I always tried to push myself and I watched him carefully. Other than that it was a joy to play and train with David Ginola in training, but obviously completely different positions and different skill sets, but he was unbelievable to train with, and you used to watch him and some of the things of the things that he used to do on the training pitch was different class.

What was it like to be a part of the Spurs side that won the 1999 League Cup. And if possible could you talk me through your memories of that campaign?

Luke: Obviously that was my breakthrough season and as I mentioned the quarter-final was my home debut I believe, and I think that we won 3-1 against Man United and as a 19 year old who was training in the reserves with eight players a week before, to be playing in that game and beating some real big names in that United side was a bit surreal to be honest with you. I played about ten minutes or so in the semi-finals against Wimbledon which was two legged, and in the final I managed to make the bench which was still quite big for me, because I think that we left out a few senior players. At that age I was probably a little bit disappointed that I wasn’t playing but it probably felt like I would settle for a spot on the bench as I had only just settled into the side, but we have not won many trophies since then and I think that only another League Cup has been added. So you only realise how rare that victories going to be until you look sort of 20 years later and it’s still only one of only two cups. 

What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?

Luke: I was obviously playing in a variety of positions and under George Graham I think that I was playing left wing-back for a period of time, and my form was really good and I’d got myself into the side on a bit of a run. And just before the semi-final of the FA Cup that year George Graham was either sacked or walked, I can’t exactly quite remember. We then brought in Glenn Hoddle and I didn’t feel as though Glenn trusted me as much as George Graham did, and there was a few occasions where he played similar age players to me in a position that I thought that I could play better. I got offered a couple of new contracts off the club that really were a bit derisory really, they were offering me terms because I came through the youth and I’d played sort of 70 or 80 games by then, so they had two or three go’s at it and then I said that I’d like to leave because I had heard of Charlton’s interest. It was a little bit because I didn’t feel valued with the offers of the contract that I was being offered and also the major point really was because I felt at 22 almost that I needed to cement being a right-back, and that meant moving clubs because Stephen Carr was still at Spurs and I wasn’t going to get in in front of him. So I went to Charlton really to learn to play week in week out and every game, and I managed to go there for the first season and I found it tough doing that. It’s a learning curve when you’ve got to go out there Saturday, Tuesday and in cup competitions and you ended up playing 40 odd games on the bounce. So it was something that I probably needed to do to progress my career although it was a sad time to leave Spurs, and also a little bit sad because I felt that the contract offers that I was receiving were sort of way below what I deserved.

I didn’t go to Charlton on a lot of money but it was still about five times more than what Tottenham were offering me to stay, so I had to think about that as well. Following on from that I obviously had a great time at Charlton and it was really tough to stay in the league but we were a hardworking battling squad who knew what we were and what we needed to do. We introduced some good footballers along the way to make the team stay in the league for five seasons on the bounce, before unluckily we sort of went down in the sixth season. Then when we went down I went on to Middlesbrough and I absolutely loved it up there for one season playing under Gareth Southgate, who is a great man and he was a good manager. It was hard for him as he’d only just come out of being the captain of the club to being the manager so it was a difficult job to do as one minute you’re one of the lads and the next minute you’re the manager, but I really liked it up there and enjoyed my time. I would have stayed longer at Middlesbrough but for Aston Villa putting in a good offer that the club couldn’t really refuse, so I ended up going to Aston Villa for three years and again I loved it there. We had expectations and pressure to try and put some pressure on the top four and that didn’t quite happen, although I think that we finished sixth three years in a row, and I finished sixth twice in a row when I was there. They had been sixth the year before and also I think that they came ninth in my last year there, but again it was a fantastic squad that we had there and we had great players like Ashley Young, Downing, Milner and Gareth Barry and Gabriel Agbonlahor and Carew and Richard Dunne, all top top players, but the only thing was that we never had them all at the same time.

I feel like if we had had all of those players in the same season then we could have put a bit more pressure on the top four, but I loved my time there. Then I finished off at Queens Park Rangers where I had hip problems, and I knew that they were coming as I had them for sort of pretty much half of my career but it had got to the stage at QPR where they had become chronic. I had an operation but I couldn’t quite get back to that sort of elite level, so I played out the last couple of years just training with the under 23’s and not really being involved and that was tough. It was part of my career that I didn’t enjoy and it was actually sad but I couldn’t wait until the contract ran out, as I knew that I couldn’t get back to that elite level which I found tough going in every day and knowing that you’re not going to play and not going to be involved. And perhaps to be honest you’re not quite at that level anymore.

What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?

Luke: I’ve only got good memories of my time at Spurs, I’m a Tottenham supporter so to play for your side that you’ve supported since you were a kid, is actually quite unbelievable really. You don’t take it in at the time when you’re a young player, I’d played in FA Cup semi-finals two years on the bounce and you feel that there going to come around all of the time, but they don’t. You don’t actually appreciate things,  but when I’m looking back now to actually run out there and hear the Tottenham music going off before kick-off with the fans, and playing at White Hart Lane was just a dream come true. Obviously being at Spurs from the age of ten I learnt my trade there, and I’ve only got great things to say about the club.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Luke: I never actually managed to play in a cup final or start a cup final, or win promotion as generally all of my games were in the Premier League. So the greatest moment of my footballing career would have been representing my country playing for England. As a young kid growing up and playing football I never thought that that would ever be possible to actually be lining up and singing the national anthem, really it was just unbelievable and that would be just the greatest moment of my footballing career. 

Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with? 

Luke: The greatest player that I felt like I’ve played with was David Ginola in the 1999 season where he was unbelievable, and I think that he won the PFA player of the year. I remember playing sometimes behind him and I was just watching and felt sorry for the right-back because he was just that unplayable at times, and a true pleasure to be on the pitch with. Also, obviously being in the England squad and playing a couple of games and looking at that team sheet with Gerrard and Lampard and Owen and Rooney and Beckham, and to say that I played a few games with these guys is a real pleasure.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the various Tottenham youth teams and reserves?

Luke: I still say now that the youth team days were the best days of your life really, and it was so much fun being in it together with the other lads. We managed to win a couple of cup competitions when I was at Spurs, I think that we won the FA Floodlit Cup which is what it was called at the time, and we beat Norwich at White Hart Lane, and that was obviously a special moment. In the league I think that we always managed to come second or third and I don’t think that we ever won the league. It was a tough league with the Arsenal’s and the Chelsea’s of this world in there, but yet again I loved my time in the youth team and I was lucky enough to win a couple of cup competitions. I think that I was also voted the youth team player of the year which was obviously a lovely accolade to get as well, so yeah I have really fond memories of my time in the youth team.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the Tottenham first team?

Luke: My favourite memory of my time in the Tottenham first team would obviously be winning a trophy and being involved in that quarter-final against Man United, which was huge for me on my home debut. I think just playing for the club that you’ve supported all your life was massive, so that’s a huge thing that I look back on with pride now. I was actually disappointed that I never scored for Spurs so that would be one of my regrets but I think winning a cup competition would be one of the memories that stands out the most.

Who was toughest player that you ever came up against?

Luke: I would say that was probably Thierry Henry, although not directly up against me for the majority of the game, but for the last ten to 15 minutes of the match and generally in play as well. He would drift out to the left which meant that I would generally be picking him up for a while and at the time he was a great athlete compared to everybody else, and he would knock the ball ten to 15 yards past you and then put the afterburners on and there was no catching him. So I found him to sort of be one of the standout players of the Premier League era.

Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?

Luke: In the youth team days we had such a great group of lads and I was close to all of those guys, and I look back so fondly on my memories there. Moving on to sort of the reserves and the pro ranks I was close with Mark Gower who was a centre-midfield player who went on to play in the Premier League with Swansea and he’s a great lad. Also I was close with Stephen Clemence and we had a good few years where we would celebrate after games and go out together, as we didn’t live that far away from each other. I holidayed together with both of those guys as well and I still speak to them to this day, so yeah I was close to those two.

 What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

Luke: It’s really difficult as every player has got their own route that they take to get into the first team and I think that it’s all about just giving it absolutely everything you’ve got everyday in training, and looking at the players in your position. And also looking at the better players in the world of football and studying their game and trying to take bits and pieces away from you. You’ve got to try and be like a sponge but I think that first and foremost that you’ve got to be dedicated and everything’s got to be dedicated to football nowadays, because your contemporaries are trying to vie for that same position. If you’re not 100% on it and dedicated then somebody else will be and they’ll take your place. So I think that you’ve got to eat, sleep and breathe football really nowadays to get into the first team and manage to stay there.

After all these years how do you look back on your time at the Lilywhites and is Spurs a club who you still hold close to your heart?

Luke: Like I said I’ve only got massively fond memories of my time at Tottenham the club that I supported as a boy, the club that I watched from the stands and watched on telly and listened to on the radio. Then to actually be standing in that tunnel with glory glory Tottenham Hotspur’s playing and you’re walking out and the hairs stand up on the back of your neck as a 19 year old was something that I’ll never forget. Obviously I’m absolutely delighted that I managed to pull on the famous white shirt of Spurs, a club that I still follow closely now, and a club that my son follows with me. As we speak now he’s running around in his Son shirt, so we’re still a household of Tottenham fans.

Some notes on Spurs loanee Troy Parrott’s performance against Peterborough United:

Spurs youngster and Republic of Ireland international Troy Parrott made his second appearance for loan club Ipswich Town on Tuesday night, as he started against Peterborough United in a League One game at their Weston Homes Stadium (Parrott played the whole game). In a game which Ipswich lost 2-1, Parrott started the game up front with the experienced centre-forward James Norwood. Not long after Ipswich took the lead in the sixth minute of the game Parrott attempted to get to a long forward ball from the Ipswich defence, and he tried to bring the ball down on the edge of the Peterborough penalty area, but it ended up running the through to the goalkeeper and Parrott ended up giving away a foul, after fouling a Peterborough defender while trying to get to the ball. A cross from the left flank which was intended for Parrott, was challenged by a Peterborough defender in the home sides box, although Parrott likely got a head to it, as it ended up going back out to the left side of the pitch. A long forward ball from Ipswich defender Luke Chambers was flicked on by the head of Parrott, and the Dubliner then sprinted with Peterborough defender Nathan Thompson to get to the ball first and be through on goal, but despite Parrott showing some good pace Thompson got back to get to the ball first (Peterborough equalised not long afterwards, in the 48th minute of the game). Peterborough took the lead early on in the second half, and while Parrott was a little bit isolated at times he did continue to move well off the ball and also chase long forward balls, but he didn’t have any real chance to score until near the end of the game. A corner into the Peterborough box from the right bounced off a Peterborough player, before coming to the feet of Parrott about eight yards out from goal, but his powerful effort was pretty much straight at Peterborough goalkeeper Christy Pym, who made a good reaction save, low down.

Some notes on Spurs loanee Troy Parrott’s performance against Blackpool:

Spurs youngster Troy Parrott (19) made his debut for loan club Ipswich Town on Saturday afternoon, less than a week after joining the League One club on loan from Spurs. The Republic of Ireland international completed 69 minutes of their league game with Blackpool at Portman Road, a game which Ipswich won 2-0, while Parrott made a positive impression on his debut. Starting the game as an out and out centre forward either side of Luke Thomas and Freddie Sears in a 4-3-3 formation, Parrott was involved in some good passages of play during his time on the pitch. The Dubliner’s first involvement in Saturday’s game came early on in the match, after full-back Myles Kenlock played the ball through to Parrott down the left flank, and Parrott managed to stay onside, before travelling forward with the ball. He then went into the Blackpool penalty area before cleverly passing the ball into the feet of a teammate who had made a run down the left side of the box, but the first touch of the Ipswich player let him down, and the ball ended up going behind for a goal kick. Parrott was involved in a good Ipswich break forward not long afterwards, before then spraying a good pass out to teammate Luke Thomas who managed to control the ball out on the right flank. Blackpool had the better chances during the opening stages of the game, but Ipswich did look good when they had the ball in the final third. After receiving a pass from Alan Judge, Parrott passed the ball to Luke Thomas on the edge of the Blackpool box, he let it run into the box before seeing his eventual effort go wide of the goal.

Parrott looked good on the ball during the opening stages of the game and he was pressing the opposing teams players well. Ipswich defender Mark McGuinness’ long ball forward to Parrott was well controlled by the centre-forward, before he slipped a nice pass through to Freddie Sears who finished beyond Blackpool goalkeeper Christopher Maxwell from inside the penalty area, but unfortunately he was offside and the goal didn’t count, but Ipswich took the lead not long afterwards, just before half-time. And the home side started the second half really well by scoring their second goal of the game in the 49th minute as Parrott continued to work really well off the ball, and also make some good forward runs. A long ball through to Parrott from Alan Judge was met by the Spurs man, who after managing to get in front of defender Marvin Ekpiteta, Parrott knocked the ball beyond the outrushing goalkeeper Christopher Maxwell down the left flank, but he ended up fouling Troy and being shown a yellow card. Parrott looked sharp on the pitch, and he had some good touches which with his fine movement off the ball made a good impact on the game, so it was a good debut from the Irishman. He was replaced by James Norwood in the 69th minute of the match.