A season of great strides – Maxwell Statham 2018/19:

A season of great strides – Maxwell Statham 2018/19: 

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An Academy player who has made great strides during the 2018/19 season, 18 year old centre half Maxwell Louis Statham has enjoyed a fine season for Spurs’ under 18 side. Born in Southend but brought up in Chelmsford, Maxwell is the son of former Spurs player Brian Statham, a familiar name for those Spurs fans who remember the late 1980’s well. Despite limited starts during the early stages of the season, the second year year scholar went onto force himself into John McDermott’s under 18 side. His versatility and adaptability plain to see as he filled in at both right back and left back throughout the course of the campaign. Statham is a traditional centre half who is both robust and reactive, he is also very good at last ditch defending. The 18 year old has made great strides this season and I have hence decided to write a piece on yet another of our promising second year scholars. A young man who always keeps good positioning and is effective at man marking, Maxwell reminds me of a young Shane Duffy in the way in which he defends. He is very much a combative centre half not too dissimilar to former Spurs man Christian Maghoma in his style of play, and it is the combative and heroic style of his defending which I will go into in great detail about during the following piece. Featuring 17 times for our under 18’s during the 2018/19 season Statham went onto become an important member of our under 18 side despite the fact that he was so regularly played out of position. The tough tackling and commanding centre half has really shown just how versatile he is this season and under testing conditions he has made sure that he has risen to the occasion. Perhaps not as hyped up as some of our defensive prospects, the following piece is both a piece reflecting on the fine season that Maxwell has enjoyed for Spurs, but it is also a piece which highlights some of the youngsters qualities both as a centre half and as a fullback. In my opinion Statham has come on leaps and bounds over the course of the campaign, and I think that it’s fair to say that he has improved as a defender.

The Southend born defender who has been at Spurs since his early teenage years, is now nearing the end of his second year of scholarship at Londons finest club. The former pupil of Moulsham High School in the town of Chelmsford, Essex has risen through the ranks at Spurs. During his final year as a schoolboy the right sided centre half featured prominently for our under 16’s, and he managed to find the back of the net on four occasions. However, Statham had to wait until September 2017 before he made his debut for our under 18’s, that came in a 2-1 league win over Southampton at their Staplewood Training Centre, when he put in a solid debut performance at RCB. Statham would go onto make a further 12 appearances for Scott Parker’s under 18 side that season although the defender wasn’t a regular in Parker’s side. This season Statham has played an even bigger role in the side and he has improved in his all round game. After putting in an impressive shift at centre half against Enfield Town in a pre-season friendly last July, Statham would go onto perform excellently at the prestigious Tournoi Europeen in France, just a week later. The second year scholar defended diligently in France in the absence of the injured Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, and some of the challenges and interceptions which he made during the tournament were superb. In addition the maturity for which he showed in games against the likes of Stade Rennais and EA Guingamp was seriously impressive, and it was only during that tournament that I began to draw comparisons with former Spurs defender Christian Maghoma. After recovering from an injury which he picked up shortly after the tournament, Statham would go onto make his first competitive appearance of the season in an under 18 league game against Southampton. In that game the teenager would come off the bench late on in the game to make a heroic late sliding challenge as Spurs went onto win the game 5-2. Due to the amount of centre halves we had competing for places in the under 18 side this season, with the likes of Malachi Walcott, Luis Binks, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and Jubril Okedina all vying for places in John McDermott’s side, this meant that Maxwell’s time in his natural position of centre half was severely limited.

The competition for one of two CB spots in the side meant that Statham would have to prove his versatility to break into the team. And prove his versatility he certainly did, throughout the course of the campaign the teenager from Essex has filled in both at right back and at left back in around 90% of the games in which he has been involved in. Putting in valiant performances against the likes of Swansea City, Arsenal, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Norwich City and Leicester City throughout the season mostly in his newfound position, Statham performed consistently well for our under 18’s by putting in some really steady performances at fullback. Although Cristiano Ronaldo is Maxwell’s footballing hero, since making the switch to fullback he has started to pay really close attention to Liverpool fullback Trent Alexander-Arnold who is a player who he really likes to watch. What type of defender is Maxwell? Well as a centre half the 18 year old could be compared to somebody such as Michael Dawson or Shane Duffy. He may not have much pace and he may not be the flashiest on the ball. However, he is an excellent young defender who is strong and robust in the challenge, as well as being dominant in the air. Furthermore, Statham the centre half keeps good positioning and even though he isn’t a ball playing centre half the tall defender is very comfortable on the ball, and he likes to ping the ball out to whichever Spurs winger is playing on the left flank with his trademark Dawson-esque long passes. Like Japhet Tanganga before him, Statham is very much a reactive central defender who really is superb at making heroic blocks and at last ditch defending. Linking back into my comparisons with a player who I love to watch in Ireland international Shane Duffy. Statham reads the game well and he defends with a nice assuredness about him, but like Duffy who is renowned for his old school defending, Maxwell is one of those defenders who will literally put his body on the line for his team.

Hardworking and relentlessly scanning the potential danger in front of him, I have seen the 18 year old make many a heroic block over the years, and that is something which every defender needs to have in their locker. Good at making clearances, and a commanding figure in central defence. Statham is vocal and he likes to talk his way through matches, something that former Spurs youth player Christian Maghoma was also very good at. As a fullback on either flank the young defender manages to get up and down the channels well despite his lack of pace. Statham has grown into his new position and he plays as if he really enjoys the freedom which playing at fullback offers him. The versatile young defender gets up and down the flank well and he is nice and aggressive both in and out of possession. Statham has put in some really solid performances at fullback this season and he has shown just how versatile he can be. However, his best performance of the season in my opinion occurred in a league fixture against Leicester City back in December of 2018. Statham didn’t start the game that day however, an early injury which was picked up by makeshift left back Jeremie Mukendi meant that Statham had to fill in at left back in place of the injured Mukendi. That day Statham was up against tricky Irish winger Shane Flynn, a highly skilful young player who had good pace and flair about him. However, Statham stayed deep throughout the match and he marked Flynn tightly, and it resulted in him keeping the talented Irishman at bay for large periods of the game. Maxwell was forceful and he made some hugely important challenges and interceptions to protect his side of the pitch, and help Spurs to record a clean sheet. I really like and admire Statham’s style of play and his tremendous work rate. He is a courageous young player who has certainly proved his adaptability and versatility this season in testing circumstances. The 18 year old has been consistent throughout the campaign and the quality of his performances as well as the work rate in which he offers to games has been top class.  

It is worth noting that back in February Statham was on a short youth loan at Norwich City. He played in one competitive game for the ‘ Canaries ‘ a 4-0 league defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers. This followed an article which was published in the Daily Mirror claiming that Maxwell was attracting the attention of a number of clubs including Norwich City, Brentford and Newcastle United. However, the second year scholar signed a professional contract with Spurs this month putting any such rumours to rest. Statham who is also eligible to represent Zimbabwe through his Harare born father Brian, is also possibly eligible to represent Scotland at international level. It has been a very positive season for Maxwell at Spurs and he has made huge personal strides this campaign. Statham, who still has the end of season Terborg tournament to look forward to should be very proud of himself for all that he has achieved throughout the 2018/19 campaign.

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My interview with former Spurs man Andy Polston:

My interview with former Spurs man Andy Polston: 

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I caught up with former Spurs man and youth team player Andy Polston on Monday afternoon to look back on his time at the ‘ Lilywhites ‘. One of two brothers along with the better known John who featured for our first team over a dozen times. Andy featured only once for Spurs’ first team, that came in a league game against Crystal Palace when he made Spurs history by playing with his brother John. The former defender who kindly agreed to doing an interview with me, was in the Tottenham youth team during the 1980’s and he made his one and only appearance for the first team in 1990. Andy would later go onto play for the likes of Gillingham, Boreham Wood and Brighton. It was a real pleasure catching up with the former Spurs defender.

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs?

Andy: I think I was there from 11 years of age training on a Monday night and then it went onto a Tuesday and Thursday night. Then once I moved up I got offered a YTS, so probably my earliest memory was sort of being spotted by a scout and then following the path. The aim was to get in the youth team, once you got in there it was about the reserves and obviously then the big ambition was to play in the first team which obviously is limited, due to homegrown players. 

How did you come about joining the club?

Andy: Basically I was playing Sunday morning football and there were Tottenham scouts watching different games over the borough. A scout watching me play then invited me to come to Spurs on a Monday night and the progression just went from there. 

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

Andy: It was enjoyable! Of course you have your ups and downs don’t get me wrong but in general my overall time from signing at 15 to leaving at 22 was happy. 

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

Andy: My footballing hero was Trevor Brooking, as I was a fanatical West Ham fan growing up and I just loved Trevor Brooking.

You made your first team debut for Spurs in a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace on the 3rd of March 1990. What are your memories of that day and how it came about?

Andy: I’d been training in the first team squad a couple of weeks before that but I got called up then on the Saturday when they had a squad of about 14, 15. I think I then traveled to an away game which I can’t remember who it was against, but I never made the bench. I was then in the home squad the following week and then I was on the bench and then it was my debut. Obviously it was every kids dream to play in the first team but it was also a special day because my brother John was playing as well, so for two brothers to play for the first team it was a fantastic day for me and obviously for my family as well.

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

Andy: I played at right back or centre half most of the time, but I probably played more at centre half. Looking back if I’d have stayed at right back I think it would have been better for me as it was probably my best position. I always seemed to get moved to centre half which is where I made my debut at because I was quite quick. 

What was it like to brush shoulders with some of the legendary players that were around at Spurs at the time?

Alan: It was great but when you’re training every day around them it’s not such a big deal and I don’t mean that in a horrible way. However, it’s just like going to work everyday. At the time it was Gary Lineker, Paul Gascoigne and Gary Mabbutt and in everyone else’s eyes they were heroes, but for us they were just teammates and I was never in awe of them. 

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Andy: It’s sad actually because of the news today but it has to be Chris Hughton because he was a defender who would always look out for the youngsters. If you ever had a problem he would help you out and I can remember when Spurs offered me my second contract and I went to ask him what he thought and he was very good to me. 

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

Andy: Being a defender you’d always keep an eye on who was in the current team, such as the two centre halves or the right back to see how their game was compared to yours. 

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time at Spurs or ones which particularly standout within your memory?

Andy: Obviously making my debut was the highlight at Spurs but also going on a pre season tour with the first team and playing in front of quite big crowds was another good memory.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Andy: I would say when I was playing in the first team for Spurs because that is what I set out to do as a young kid, but through injury it didn’t go the way I wanted it to go, but that’s life and you move on. 

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

Andy: Paul Gascoigne was as good as anybody but I’ve got to say I did play in a testimonial for Bill Nicholson for the current Spurs team as it was then, against the 1981 FA Cup winning team and Glen Hoddle played in central midfield and his through balls with back spin to set both Archibald and Crooks through on goal were unbelievable, and it was a real eye opener.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time in the Tottenham youth team?

Andy: Obviously winning the South East Counties league although I don’t remember how many times we did win it. However, probably the biggest disappointment was getting to the FA youth cup semi final against Doncaster when we lost over two legs which was a shame as Arsenal got to the final, so that was the biggest disappointment.

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

Andy: Well my contract was coming to an end and I was always injured because I had a groin problem which was later diagnosed as a cut tendon and so that was that. After Spurs I went to Brighton for six months but I never really recovered from the operation that took place and it took me a long time to get over that. I then played a couple of games for Fulham on trial but I wasn’t really at my best to be honest. Unfortunately I ended up going part time which was just the way of the world really. 

What was it like to play, train and make Spurs history with your older brother John?

Andy: It was wonderful and to this day were still the only brothers to have played for Spurs since 1990 and I personally don’t think that will change in my lifetime. However, I hope someone does break it. 

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

Andy: In the youth team it would have been Kevin Dearden who was a good lad and also Ian Gilzean. Also Justin Edinburgh who I was assistant manager with when he took his first job with Billericay Town. 

 As somebody who worked your way up the youth ranks at Spurs before breaking into the first team, what would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

Andy: The number one thing is that you’ve got to have a lot of ability to get into the first team, but I think that it’s all about the desire and the attitude of the player, as well as 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?

Andy: I follow football don’t get me wrong but I’m not one of those people who gets down in the dumps if Spurs lose. I look out for Spurs and West Ham’s results so I’m not a one man team!

Some notes on Spurs loanee Samuel Shashoua’s performance against Lleida:

Some notes on Spurs loanee Samuel Shashoua’s performance against Lleida:

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Spurs youngster Samuel had a day he will never forget on Sunday evening after he helped Atlético Baleares to clinch the Spanish División B – Grupo III title with a 2-1 home win over Lleida, at the Son Malferit. Shashoua had a truly wonderful game in the evening sun as he helped to inspire Atlético to overcome a Lleida side who were fighting for a play off place. The pressure of the occasion didn’t get to Samuel and his teammates as they outplayed Lleida for large periods of the game, thanks mainly to the impact that Samuel and Atlético’s centre forward Nuha Marong had on the game. With his clever jinking runs, hard work and all round intelligent play, Samuel had one of his very best games of the 2018/19 season. Shashoua started the game out on the left wing as Atlético lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The 19 year olds first involvement in the game occurred around the five minute mark, after he peeled away from a Lleida defender and looked to run onto Marcos De la Espada’s lofted pass inside the oppositions penalty area. However, Lleida goalkeeper Pau Torres managed to gather the ball in time, before Samuel could latch onto it. There was very little focus on the left flank during the opening stages of the game and this meant that Samuel found it extremely difficult to make an impression on the game considering that he had such few touches. Around the 15 minute mark Shashoua switched flanks with Canario. The Lleida goalkeeper Pau Torres punched away a good cross which Samuel whipped into the box from the left wing, before the ball was eventually cleared away by a defender. It is worth noting that Shashoua was tracking back well after him during the opening stages of the first half, and he was looking sharp. Atlético’s top scorer this season Nuha Marong gave the home side the lead in the 35th minute of time after he beat Pau Torres with a clever lobbed finish on the edge of the Lleida penalty area. Then a couple of minutes later The Gambia international doubled the ` Balearicos ’ advantage after he was set up by Samuel. After Francesc Fullana played his corner kick short to Shashoua, the Spurs man intelligently dummied Lleida defender Dalmau as he came inside onto his left foot before picking out Nuha at the back post with a clever chipped cross which the centre forward headed down into the turf before it bounced up over Pau Torres, and into the back of the goal. It was a really clever piece of play from Shashoua who actually turns 20 tomorrow!

Unfortunately Juanto Ortuño managed to pull a goal back for Lleida in the 38th minute of the game however, it didn’t stop Atlético from finishing the half strongly. After powering forward down the left flank Shashoua whipped a menacing ball across the face of the Lleida goal in what turned out to be his final involvement of the first half. Shashoua started the second half back out on the left wing and it was during this half that the Spurs man really started to up his game and try different things with the ball. After winning the ball down the left flank Samuel dribbled away from Cano before darting forward with the ball glued to his feet. Shashoua then skipped past Dalmau before clipping the ball into the oppositions penalty area, but it was cleared away by Iván. Samuel had started the second half really well and he continued to cause the startled Lleida defence problems. After receiving a pass from Canario down the left hand side of the Lleida penalty area, Samuel cut inside onto his right foot before wildly whipping the ball over Pau Torres’ crossbar, this resulted in Samuel shaking his head in disapproval. After latching onto Peris’ throw in a couple of moments later Shashoua drifted inside from the left wing before forcing a decent save out of Pau Torres from his curling effort on the edge of the Lleida penalty area. A couple of minutes later the sharp 19 year old raced down the opposite end of the left flank to help close down Lleida’s Dalmau to prevent him from crossing the ball into the Atlético penalty area, this was yet another selfless piece of defending from Samuel. There was a commotion after Lleida midfielder Trilles was sent off for elbowing Nuha in the face however, instead of getting involved in the resulting scuffle Shashoua calmly went over to the dug out to get a drink of water. Another darting run from Samuel down the left flank resulted in the 19 year old skipping past the helpless Dalmau before driving forward and doing well to hold off Albístegui. He then cut inside before attempting to pick out Canario on the opposite flank however, his pass was cut out by a Lleida defender. Shashoua continued to impress down that left flank as the half went on. After receiving Peris’ ball down the left flank the nimble footed winger danced his way around Lleida’s Iván who was rooted to the spot. He then sprinted into the Lleida box before holding up the ball and seeing his attempted cross blocked behind for a corner by Dalmau. Samuel was replaced by Álvaro Vega in the 90th minute of the game as Manix Mandiola’s side looked to hold onto the win.

This was a truly excellent performance from Shashoua who had an outstanding game all round out on the left flank. By far the most fouled player on the pitch, the tricky youngster dazzled particularly during the second half of the game with his fancy foot work, darting runs and strength. Chipping in with another fine assist, it was a very productive day for Samuel who tracked back impeccably well after him to help out the Atlético defence. Some of the 19 year olds attacking forays down the left flank were sensational this evening. And it is his ever improving dribbling ability, pace and decision making in the final third which fills me with hope that he will get a chance to show off his qualities to Mauricio Pochettino for the first team in pre-season. I would like to congratulate Atlético’s player of the season on helping the Balearic club win the Spanish División B – Grupo III title, and on putting in another match winning performance. 

Samuel Shashoua for Atlético Baleares 2018/19:

Appearances: 32

Goals: 6

Assists: 4

My interview with former Spurs man Darren Davies:

My interview with former Spurs man Darren Davies:

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I had the great pleasure of catching up with former Spurs youth player Darren Davies  who played for the Spurs youth team during the 1990’s. Davies who is a native of the Welsh steel town of Port Talbot was a left back throughout his career and after departing Spurs in 1998 he went onto have an interesting career, playing for the likes of Barry Town, Greenock Morton, Forest Green Rovers and Redland City Devils. Since retiring from the game life long Spurs fan Davies has since made the foray into coaching and only recently he was the interim manager of Australian A league side Brisbane Roar. I caught up with Darren who now lives in Australia, as he looked back on his younger years at Tottenham Hotspur and life at one of England’s biggest clubs. Darren is a man who has a very bright future in management.

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

Darren: One of my earliest memories was within the first week, the club had signed Jürgen Klinsmann and four or five of us apprentices who were away from home and in digs had to have a mini training session with him and Ossis Ardiles, in the old ball court at White Hart Lane one afternoon, to present him to the worlds media. 

It was insane the amount of media around him at that time and for us apprentices a little surreal. I’d only finished school in South Wales the Friday before and here I was thrust into that scenario, unbelievable but certainly life changing. I was captain of the Wales U15 schoolboy side and a lifelong Spurs fan! I had opportunities to join quite a few other clubs but once Tottenham showed interest there was never any other place that I wanted to go. 

What was your time at Spurs like on the whole?

Darren: I thoroughly enjoyed it. I feel very honoured to have spent the years I did there and the football opportunity and life experience it gave me. It gave me huge life learnings to take forward with me and as far as a football education is concerned it instilled a belief and passion of how the game should be played and a playing philosophy I believe in, to take with me in my playing and coaching career. 

Who was your footballing inspiration/hero?

Darren: Paul Gascoigne! But I could name them all, I was Tottenham daft! The only record I ever bought with my pocket money as a kid was Chas & Dave! 

Who were your greatest influences at the club?

Darren: Gerry Francis as he was the manager who gave me both my professional contracts after graduating as an apprentice. The youth team coach then was Des Bulpin who was great to me and Chris Hughton who was then reserve team coach, was also very good to me. The senior players at the club then also had a massive influence on me as a person but particularly now in my coaching career were people like Gary Mabbutt, Teddy Sheringham, Nicky Barmby, Colin Calderwood, Justin Edinburgh, Dave Kerslake, Dean Austin, David Ginola, Sol Campbell and the list goes on. The way those senior players treated us youngsters, the way they looked after us both on and off the pitch, the help they gave us, it taught me huge lessons in how to educate, protect and develop young players in all aspects. Fantastic people! 

Were there any other players at the club or outside, who you would model your game around?

Darren: Not really. Of course I watched football and wanted to learn as much as I could from as many people as I could. That’s why, as I say each and every senior player there contributed to something I have taken forward with me. 

What was the toughest thing about being a young up and coming player during that time?

Darren: It’s obviously a huge club but it was very difficult to break through as a home grown youngster, especially at that time with the quality foreigners we had. 

But I regret nothing. I gave everything and Tottenham gave me so much. 

The pedigree that I obtained from being there, the playing style and philosophy that I had instilled in me which was in the clubs DNA enabled me to forge a career away from White Hart Lane, travel the world, and now currently live in Australia, working in a fantastic country in a league that will only continue to grow and get better. 

Were there any youth players at Spurs who you were particularly close to and are you still in touch with any of your former team mates?

Darren: I have occasional contact with a number of former Spurs colleagues yes. Social media is a wonderful thing sometimes. But Paul Mcveigh is without doubt the one I keep in most touch with. He is without doubt one of my best friends in football, we regularly FaceTime and he visited me in Australia a couple of years ago and only last summer we enjoyed a few pints of Guinness in Dublin with his brother. 

What was your greatest memory from your time at the lilywhites?

Darren: Walking in and out of the players entrance at White Hart Lane was something very special. I used to love it and the history that went with it and the players that had been there before me. It was something never lost on me. 

Captaining the Tottenham youth team is something I am also very proud of. 

The FA premier league youth cup final against Arsenal and league cup win at White Hart Lane over Norwich, after which Gerry Francis offered me my very first Professional contract, are probably standouts.

Could you talk me through your career after you left Spurs?

Darren: I went back to South Wales initially, and played for Barry Town in a very successful team including in the Champions League, I then moved to Scotland to Greenock Morton to play in what is now the Championship, before a number of years in the Conference with Dover Athletic and Forest Green before finishing my playing career at Tiverton, Merthyr Tydfil and returning back to the league of Wales with my hometown club Port Talbot. 

What was the pinnacle of your footballing career 

Darren: It has to be representing Wales. I am a very proud Welshman and I was

privileged to captain and represent my country at all levels up to and including U21. 

Who was the greatest player that you ever played alongside?

Darren: Too tough to choose! Teddy Sheringham, Jürgen Klinsmann and David Ginola were all unbelievable footballers! 

What would your advice be to the current Spurs academy players, as they look to make their way up the footballing pyramid?

Darren: Embrace and enjoy everything! Every moment is a learning moment and don’t have any regrets about not giving your very best! If you give your best and apply yourself properly, whatever happens, it will stand you in good stead for your future. 

My piece on Spurs’ valiant and extremely creative young central midfielder Harvey White:

My piece on Spurs’ valiant and extremely creative young central midfielder Harvey White: 

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As much a midfield craftsman as he is a midfield anchorman, versatile 17 year old academy player Harvey White is yet another youngster who has enjoyed a fantastic 2018/19 season for Spurs. The first year scholar is a graceful midfield technician who has only recently made the switch from CAM to CDM however, he is also a combative midfielder who can effectively break up play and recycle possession in the central areas of the pitch. Since making his competitive debut for our under 18’s as a schoolboy back in April of 2018, White has played predominantly at CDM although he has also filled in at left back on a number of occasions as well as at centre half and his former position of CAM. The Kent born midfielder has been one of John McDermott’s most consistent performers throughout the current campaign. A central midfielder in the mould of Harry Winks, White offers far more of an offensive threat than the Spurs first teamer although he does remind me of the 23 year old in his style of play. The offensive threat which Harvey carries has certainly bore fruit this season. Over the course of the campaign from his 33 competitive appearances for Spurs across all levels, the holding midfielder has chipped with a remarkable seven goals and 13 assists. Being directly involved in 21 goals from 33 appearances is an impressive statistic for a forward, attacking player however, I doubt that any CDM across Europe’s top five youth leagues has come anywhere near to Harvey in that respect, this season. Since joining Spurs at the age of just six, the Maidstone born midfielder has risen through the ranks at the North London club, often playing above his age group. A commanding and physical presence in the middle of the park, White may not posses searing pace or flare and panache however, what he does well he does very well. He reads the game exceptionally well and he has great vision. With a wand of a left foot at his disposal, the free kick and penalty specialist can cut open a defence with a single pass. White is also an excellent crosser of the ball and a potent taker of corner kicks. He is a composed player who never panics, and it is his constant scanning of the pitch, as well as his commitment and hard work which for me makes him such a talented young midfielder, who quite literally has the world at his feet. 

A real joy to watch this season, the Maidstone born midfielder who grew up in the County of Kent just like his good friends Luis Binks and Rafferty Pedder, has been at Spurs for the vast majority of his short life. Last summer Harvey signed a two year scholarship at Spurs after enjoying a successful 2017/18 season for the clubs under 16 side, chipping in with seven goals. Having been called up to represent England under 15’s at a training camp in Loughborough two seasons previous, it was clear to see how highly rated the young midfielder is. One of the first times I saw Harvey play was at the Alkaas Cup in Qatar midway through the 2017/18 season where he played both at CB and CDM. Impressing with his ball retention, composure and passing accuracy I looked forward to seeing more of the then schoolboy in action. Harvey then subsequently featured at the Borgaro Maggioni Righi in the easter of 2018, where he put in a string of very tidy but energetic midfield performances. Then a couple of weeks later he turned out for our under 18’s for the very first time in a 5-3 league defeat to Norwich City. Just like in the 2017/18 season, the 2018/19 season has been one of great progress for the diligent teenager who has improved throughout the course of the campaign. After playing in a pre-season tournament in Belgium, Harvey represented our under 19’s at the Oberndorf tournament before starting the domestic season with our under 18’s. A regular for our under 18’s throughout the season, Harvey started our first 13 consecutive league games and during the early parts of the season he was one of our most influential players. Putting in match winning performances against the likes of Chelsea, Norwich City and Aston Villa, White took to under 18 football like a duck to water. Physically adept, intelligent enough to cope with the pace of the game and above all else determined to make an impact at both ends of the pitch. The industrious young anchorman was essentially operating as a box to box midfielder during the first half of the season and he wasn’t afraid to dictate games from the middle of the park.

The former Holmesdale School pupil featured in the vast majority of our under 18 Premier League games, before later making the step up to play for our development squad. Furthermore, White played in seven of our under 19’s eight UEFA Youth League games this season. Although he hasn’t earned a call up to the England under 18 side so far this season, White still may do, as England do have a set of fixtures planned for the end of this month. A consistent performer at all levels for Spurs this season, the teenager from Maidstone was a mainstay in our under 18 side and his many excellent performances for our under 18’s played a big part in them finishing second in the Premier League South. Regularly lining up with our under 18’s captain fantastic Armando Shashoua during the first half of the season, the pair would complement one another. And both players although they were very much box to box midfielders always seemed to be on the same wavelength. White and Shashoua’s styles of play are very different but both players knew when they needed to drop deep in order to allow for the other one to advance forward, they also maintained excellent positioning throughout the season. Harvey is a player who doesn’t have bad games, he plays with aplomb and a distinctive gracefulness about him. White whose footballing hero is a certain Steven Gerrard is a very well rounded central midfielder who has a fantastic skillset. A player who possesses great vision and guile and he is always on alert. Constantly looking over his shoulder as he patrols the central areas of the pitch, White is a commanding figure in the Tottenham team (both under 18 and 23). He is also an excellent passer of the ball and he has a wand of a left foot. His passing range and laser like, deft passes are so effective. Furthermore, the 17 year old moves the ball around so well in the central areas of the pitch. He keeps things ticking and he manages to create space for himself to receive the ball. Both his short passing and long passing is so deftly accurate for a midfielder so young.

A specialist at taking corner kicks as well as free kicks on the edge of the danger zone, White can cross a football as good as anybody. His pacy whipped crosses have caused so many problems for opposition defences throughout the course of the season and it has resulted in him setting up a number of goals. However, it is White’s free kicks which are even more dangerous especially from around 20-25 yards out from goal. As a CDM Harvey is an extremely creative player who along with being able to dictate the tempo of the game, he has the ability to open up a defence with a single pass. However, Harvey the CDM is also very good at defending and breaking up play, as he has shown throughout the current campaign. The 17 year old is industrious and good at breaking up play. He is strong in the challenge and he is also committed. His combative nature and determination to win every ball makes him a very important team player. In addition Harvey is a mature player for his age and through watching him play extensively I have got to appreciate just how well he reads the game and sees and anticipates the danger. Despite his lack of pace the former attacking midfielder gets around the pitch so well, and he is a very strong player even though he is of medium build. After excelling for our under 18’s during the opening months of the season, putting in outstanding performances against the likes of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Norwich City, White made his debut for our development side in a massive Checkatrade Trophy fixture against Portsmouth back in November. That game was a tough introduction to life at this level however, Harvey adapted well to the intensity of the game as well as the atmosphere which was created by the fans at Fratton Park. Coming up against very physical and experienced central midfielders was a test for Harvey however, he dealt really well with the pressure. He covered more ground than any other Spurs player on the day and he also made some really important interceptions and clearances, and he covered well for centre halves Japhet Tanganga and George Marsh. A fine midfield performance from the first year scholar was capped off by him scoring an excellent late, curling free kick.

Like Harry Winks, White likes to make quick short passes to his teammates however, he isn’t afraid to make ambitious lofted passes. Furthermore, Harvey also isn’t afraid to take risks or to take more touches than he needs to in certain situations. A fantastically well rounded CDM who can do all different sides of the game so effectively, the youngster is also adept at filling in at left back as he has done on a number of occasions so far this season. He makes up for his lack of pace with his very Ogilvie-esque defending. I say that because the way in which he defends against wingers and reads the game, is very similar to the Tottenham loanee. In addition he also likes to play the ball down the line and he is positive and forward thinking while in possession. Harvey’s excellent crossing ability and battle like nature also helps him to play at left back and I have been very impressed whenever I have seen him fill in, in that position. The 17 year old is remarkably calm both in and out of possession and his coolness and classiness on the ball makes him a very good player to watch. He is incisive but always composed, he knows when to lunge in just as much as he knows when not to. The penalty taking specialist has raised his game in big games this season and that really helped our under 18’s out throughout their domestic season. A solid and effective presence in central midfield, he was also more often than not one of John McDermott’s sides most creative players with his excellent vision and passing ability, as well as his urge to push up the field in order to influence the game. An enthusiastic cricketer during his schooldays, Harvey White has come on leaps and bounds this season as he develops as a player. He has contributed so much to both our under 18’s and 19’s, and from an offensive perspective he has overachieved massively. However, there is so much more from the Kent boys game to appreciate such as his good sportsmanship and excellent work ethic. White is a hugely exciting talent who will surely fancy his chances of breaking into the first team in the coming seasons just like a whole host of similar players have done, namely Harry Winks and Ryan Mason. 

White is a courageous team player with outrageously good technical ability, so far this season he has been superb and dare I say it but I think that he has surpassed under 18 football, so impressed am I at his step up to under 23 level. Having trained a number of times with the first team throughout the campaign it is clear that the 17 year old is highly rated and thought of by the Tottenham coaches. Still with the end of season Terborg tournament to look forward to, I think that Harvey has had a season which he should be extremely proud of himself for. The qualities both offensive and defensive which he has shown throughout the 2018/19 season has been mightily impressive and for somebody so young he should fill every Tottenham fans hearts with hope and excitement for the statistics which he has recorded this season are unbelievable for that of a CDM. I would like to congratulate Harvey on having such an excellent season and I wish him all the very best of luck for the forthcoming Terborg tournament in Holland. 

Look out for an interview with Harvey in Sunday’s match day programme.

My interview with former Spurs man Brian Statham:

My interview with former Spurs man Brian Statham:

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Born in Harare, modern day Zimbabwe in 1969 but brought up in Essex via a short stay in Saudi Arabia, former Spurs defender Brian Statham’s journey to playing football at the very highest level is anything but ordinary. Statham rose through the youth ranks at Spurs before making his competitive first team debut in a league game against Southampton in the December of 1987. Brian would go onto make a further 26 appearances for the ‘ Lilywhites ‘ before departing them in 1992 to join fellow London club Brentford. Statham was a talented cricketer as a youngster and he represented the Essex County Schools side however, the offer of an apprenticeship at Tottenham Hotspur was enough to make Brian’s mind up as to which career path he’d take. A talented and combative right back, the tough tackling Statham represented England at under 21 level, and at Spurs he played with the likes of Chris Hughton, Ossie Ardilles and Chris Waddle, and at times he was the clubs number one right back. However, Statham was eventually overlooked and fellow Tottenham youngsters Guy Butters and Mitchell Thomas were favoured ahead of Statham who left the club for Brentford in 1992. Following his departure from the ‘ Lilywhites ‘ Brian went onto play for the likes of Brentford, Gillingham, Chesham United and Chelmsford City. He also went on to manage non league clubs Heybridge Swifts and Billericay Town. Today Statham works in the city but he still has a close bond to Spurs because of his son Maxwell (also a defender) who is currently in his second year of scholarship at the club. I had the great pleasure of interviewing about his time at Spurs on Monday evening, and it truly was a privilege.

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs?

Brian: Being a schoolboy (at Spurs) and going to the football club twice a week on a Tuesday and Thursday nights, and then playing a game on the Sunday at the old Cheshunt training ground. There used to be a gym which almost doubled up as a car park and we used to play five a side and train in there. We would also do a lot of running around the gravel track at White Hart Lane, so they were probably my earliest memories from my Spurs days.

How did you come about joining the club?

Brian: Funnily enough I’ve been at my mothers today and she pulled out a couple of old programmes and there was one in there with me in one of them, hence the reason she kept it. It just reminded me of some of the things back then. I used to play for a Sunday league team called Great Danes and one year the manager was the father of former Spurs player Ian Crook. Ian used to come in and do the training and he invited a few of us over to Spurs. We started training and then that was that and so I went through the whole process up until apprenticeship.

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

Brian: I think you can’t be at a better football club as far as I’m concerned when it comes to being a player, and even more so now, but back then it was a dream for me every young boy to be a footballer and I just so happened to be at one of the best clubs around.

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

Brian: My hero strangely enough was somebody who I played with in Paul Gascoigne. He was just a real decent man, he was crazy at times, unpredictable, charismatic but what he was able to do on a football pitch was just Roy Of The Rovers stuff. You used to watch him play and train and it was a real pleasure to play with him. Another inspiration was my father who used to do all the running around for me. He was always there and he was a real Tottenham fan, so that helped. He used to follow me at all my games and he did so up until my last game.

You made your first team debut for Spurs in a 2-1 defeat to Southampton on the 26th of December 1987. What are your memories of that day and how it came about?

Brian: it’s all very sketchy now given that it was so long ago but I think as a youngster you were called up to train with the first team and I just remember being asked that day and thinking ok, well this is interesting. When the coach Ray Clemence said to me you’re in the first team today, that was a real bonus for me. You always hope that you’re impressing but you don’t know until such a time as when you’re called up. So when I was called up it was a real surprise but I guess I took it in my stride at the time, because as a youngster that’s the aim so after making that step now I’ve got to maintain what I was doing to impress Terry Venables and the coaching staff. It was a really pleasant memory and one that when you look back you realise how special it was. 

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

Brian: I played right back, I played central midfield and centre halve for the reserves and the youth team. I was probably five foot nine inches, I was aggressive in the air and I had a bit of pace. I probably wasn’t as good technically as maybe I would have liked to have been because I came into Spurs as a 12-13 year old so I probably missed out on a lot of the technical aspects of the football that a lot of the boys had got. However, I had that willingness to do what it took to win, and that aggressive nature I had helped. I was pretty tough tackling and uncompromising and I like to think that my reputation went before me. Because if you’re going to play against me today I want you to know that you’re going to be in a battle. I always wanted to be stronger and fitter than my opposition!

What was it like to play with legendary Spurs players such as Ossie Ardilles, Chris Hughton and Chris Waddle?

Brian: You take it for granted at the time, you’d watch those players on the tv like Ossie Ardilles and Ricky Villa. I came in when the likes of Paul Miller, Chris Hughton and Graham Roberts were playing. Tough tackling defenders with big reputations and big personalities and you’ve got to fit in, and I tried to do that with my style of play. I’d like to think that those players around me understood me for the player I was and that they accepted me for that, but you’ve got to fit in quite quickly. However, it was a real privilege to play with some of those players, players such as Steve Hodge who I had the pleasure of meeting again at the weekend at a Spurs legends game. I not only had the privilege to pull on a Tottenham shirt but also to play with some of the great players over the last 50 years.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Brian: Keith Blunt was our youth team manager and I only heard very recently that he’d passed away. He was another uncompromising northern manager who was very robust with what he expected from us as young men. That respect of being a footballer and what it meant but also that hard work. We always used to work very hard at everything in training. As a young apprentice Keith was a really big influence and it’s not until you look back how good those experiences that Keith brought were for me, and he was a really good man. He was tough at the time and I’m sure that there were days when I didn’t particularly like him but on reflection I enjoyed the time that he coached me.

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

Brian: Again you’d look at the type of players who were around when I joined such as Graham Roberts, Paul Miller, Gary Mabbutt, Terry Fenwick and Chris Hughton. Those ones, particularly the fullbacks were the players I looked up to because those were the positions that I was learning to fill and I had to try and fill their boots.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time at Spurs or ones which particularly standout within your memory?

Brian: Liverpool away around 1988-89 when we went up to Anfield and drew 1-1 and I think Peter Beardsley scored the equaliser which was enough for Liverpool to win the first division, that was a really great place to go. John Barnes at the time was at the top of his game and I can remember vividly the players ribbing me the day before the game, sliding pictures of John Barnes underneath my hotel door the night before the game, but luckily for me John didn’t play because he’d got injured. So that would have been my biggest challenge as opponents go at the time, but I had a decent game at Anfield so all in all it was a good day for me, and we didn’t lose!

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Brian: There has been a few such as making my debut for Spurs, representing England at under 20 and under 21 level which is something to look back on with fond memories. Also playing at Wembley in a play off final for Brentford which unfortunately they lost to Crewe who had a really good side. However, as showpieces go that has probably got to be the one.

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

Brian: Well at the beginning of every season (at Spurs) we played in a tournament where you had the likes of AC Milan and Juventus, so I came up against the likes of Rudd Gullit and that Milan team of the 1990’s. However, I’d still have to say Paul Gascoigne was the best player I had the pleasure of lining up with in the same team, and that goes some way to defining the type of player he was.

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time in the Tottenham youth team?

Brian: We actually had a really good team and it produced a lot of players who went onto have very good careers. Beating Arsenal in youth games was a great and fulfilling achievement for me as a young boy and you had to learn quickly the rivalry and you couldn’t take it for granted. Although we didn’t get to win any youth cups unfortunately, we certainly got very close on occasions, but those are the sort of memories which spring to mind and playing with players who you’re still in touch with to this day.

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

Brian: So when I made my debut as an 18 year old I think I went onto play 25-30 odd games for Spurs but unfortunately I got some injuries which for one reason or another were prolonged. I had a number of operations within 18 months being under the surgeons knife. When I returned to playing I went out on loan after Terry Venables had brought in quite a few new players. So it looked quite difficult for me, so I sat down with the manager and he said look Brian it looks like your going to have to play your football elsewhere. So I went on loan to Reading, Bournemouth and Brentford, and eventually I signed for Brentford and went onto play 160 games. The year I joined we won the then third division as champions going away to Peterborough United and winning one nil and winning the title was a great day, and it felt like a great move at the time. After going onto play 160 games for Brentford where I had a really good time at, playing some good consistent football every week. However, that came to an end after I broke my leg (a double compound fracture) in an FA cup game at Bournemouth I was out for a year at the time. I came back from injury and that season 1997/98 we got to the play off final against Crewe but we went onto lose. The following year I went to Gillingham but unfortunately that didn’t work out because me and Tony Pulis may not have seen eye to eye, but those types of things happen. After Tony said I was surplus to requirements we agreed to part ways and after a few trials I made the decision to move into semi-pro football which I did, and that was pretty much that. 

While you were in the Spurs youth team during the late 1980’s you would have been coached by legendary double winner Ron Henry. What was Ron like as a coach and as a young fullback was he somebody who you looked up to?

Brian: Ron was a bit like Keith Blunt. Very uncompromising and another tough, tough manager who I don’t think would have stood the test of time in current football because of their outlook and the way they trained. But they probably got the best out of me. Ron and me were very similar players, he coached how he trained and he was a real good, decent guy who demanded the best from you every time, and it was always hard work. 

How did your time at Spurs prepare you for your subsequent career in the game as a manager?

Brian: As I began to come towards the end of my football career and began thinking of management you look back at all of the managers who you’ve had in your career. And you take a little piece of all of them, or some of them or none of them. I looked very quickly at some of the great things which motivated me and motivated others. And I think that’s what built up that belief system in me and how I could get the best out of players. I think Terry Venables showed some great man management skills and the way he set up his teams was something I took with me when I went into management.

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

Brian: Justin Edinburgh who was another Essex boy was one and we used to travel up together because I didn’t live far away from him. Another one was Paul Allen, again from Essex so we spent a lot of time together on the motorway. Also Philip Gray was another good friend who I spent time with outside of football. 

As somebody who worked your way up the youth ranks at Spurs before breaking into the first team, what would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

Brian: I grew up in an era of footballers who embraced the drinking culture and the going out after games. I look back and think how I could have improved and how I could have been a better athlete and a better footballer. I would say to anybody who wants to be a professional footballer especially the young boys at Spurs including my son is that you’ve got to do whatever it takes. The sacrifice that I made as a footballer compared to my friends was immense at the time. And I would say to any footballer today as I constantly do with my son is that if you want to achieve your goal then you have to sacrifice a great deal, and that is not leading a normal life. You don’t eat the same as your mates, you don’t go out and drink the same as your mates because you are totally different. As long as you understand and believe in that then you give yourself a chance to be successful. As an athlete it’s all about how you live your life. 

Being eligible for Zimbabwe did it ever interest you to represent them at international level?

Brian: Yeah it did, there was a couple of times where it came close but the only draw back was that I had to have dual nationality which meant having a dual passport, which was a little bit complex at the time. And I didn’t think that there was the infrastructure there to support it and get it done.

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?

Brian: Every weekend you watch for the results but Tottenham are the team you look out for, because it was a big part of my life and it made a big impression on me as a young man and that will never change. Whatever way you look at football today it is going to remain a part of my life and plus the fact that my son is there continues to play a big part in my life. I end up spending most Saturday’s watching him play which is an amazing feeling and I hope that the football club remains a part of my life for as long as it does Maxwell’s life, and I hope for him to be more successful than I was at the club.

Some notes on Spurs loanee Samuel Shashoua’s performance against Badalona:

Some notes on Spurs loanee Samuel Shashoua’s performance against Badalona:

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Spurs loanee Samuel Shashoua completed the full 90 minutes of Atlético Baleares’ goalless draw with Badalona on Sunday afternoon, in the Spanish Segunda Division B Group III. Shashoua started the game out on the left wing as Manix Mandiola’s side lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Today’s goalless draw means that the ‘ Balearicos ‘ will have to wait a little bit longer before clinching the Spanish Segunda Division B Group III title. Samuel hardly touched the ball during the opening 15 minutes of the game. Samuel’s first real involvement in the game occurred after Canario shifted the ball out to him on the left flank. The nimble footed youngster then darted past Marc Carbó before swivelling around and passing the ball back to Canario who then tried to initiate a move. Shashoua continued to see very little of the ball during the opening stages of the game although he was making some good tackles and he was tracking back well after him. After Francesc Fullana passed the ball to Shashoua out on the left flank the 19 year old cut inside before shifting the ball onto his right foot and attempting to pick out De La Espada in the penalty area with a whipped cross. However, Shashoua’s cross had too much pace on it and it ended up going behind for a goal kick. After Francesc Fullana had pounced on a poor header from Badalona’s Nana on the edge of the Badalona penalty area, the Atlético man fired the ball over Morales‘ crossbar.  However, he had failed to spot the well timed run of Samuel down the left hand side of the penalty area, and he could have easily slipped the ball into the Tottenham loanee who more likely than not would have tapped it into the back of the net. That was to be the frustrated Samuel’s final involvement of the first half. Shortly after the restart Samuel came desperately close to breaking the deadlock. After Canario had managed to pick out the unmarked Shashoua down the left side of the Badalona penalty area with an in swinging cross from the right flank, the 19 year old managed to connect with the ball. However, his headed effort on goal from an acute angle was well saved by Badalona goalkeeper Morales who pushed the ball behind for a corner kick. Samuel couldn’t believe that Morales had kept out his effort!

About ten minutes later Samuel picked the ball up before darting in between both Marc Carbó and Nana before firing the ball narrowly over Morales’ crossbar from the edge of the Badalona penalty area. A couple of minutes later Samuel managed to round Albarran after picking up Francesc Fullana’s pass. He then embarked on a driving forward run towards the Badalona penalty area but he was eventually intercepted by Albarran who managed to recover and make a challenge. Late on in the game Atlético substitute Nuha passed the ball to Samuel down the right side of the Badalona box but the Spurs mans quickly taken low effort was blocked by Moyano. Samuel tried to play a quick one two with Canario on the edge of the Badalona box shortly afterwards but nothing amounted of it. A late Atlético attack resulted in Fullana passing the ball to Samuel on the edge of the Badalona penalty area however, Shashoua’s resulting powerful low effort was blocked by the sliding Moyano. That was to be the last time the hardworking Samuel was involved in the game.

Some notes on Spurs loanee Anthony Georgiou’s performance against Villarreal CF B:

Some notes on Spurs loanee Anthony Georgiou’s performance against Villarreal CF B:

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Spurs loanee Anthony Georgiou completed 45 minutes of Atlético Levante’s 3-1 league defeat to Villarreal CF B on Saturday afternoon in the Spanish Segunda Division B Group III. Georgiou put in yet another impressive performance for the ‘ Granotas ‘ and I was quite frankly puzzled as to why he was withdrawn at half time, as Anthony was without doubt Levante’s most dangerous attacking player during the first half with his many purposeful runs down the left flank. Unless of course he picked up an injury of some sort during the first half then the substitution in which head coach Luis Tevenet made didn’t make any sense. Levante were simply outplayed by a far more technical and quicker opposition in Villarreal today and they couldn’t cope with how quickly Villarreal moved the ball around the park, and how they attacked the Levante defence. However, I thought that Georgiou’s performance was the one shining light from the first half. Anthony started the game out on the left wing as Luis Tevenet’s side lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The opposition hogged possession during the opening stages of the game and this meant that Anthony became isolated out on the left flank, and he was unable to impact the game during the opening 15 minutes of it. Anthony’s first meaningful involvement occurred around the 17 minute mark after Georgiou received Blesa’s cross down the left side of the Villarreal box. Georgiou connected with the ball with his head after managing to hold off a Villarreal defender, but his header was directed straight at Villarreal goalkeeper Joan who managed to hold Georgiou’s effort. A couple of minutes later Anthony was given the ball by Blesa out on the left wing. Georgiou did a couple of step overs before whipping the ball into the Villarreal box where he aimed to pick out Cantero, but his cross ended up going behind for a goal kick. Around five minutes later Anthony did some good tracking back in order to get in front of Iván deep inside the Levante half before winning a free kick after the Villarreal man tripped him from behind, down the left flank. About five minutes later Anthony received Joan’s pass out on the left flank. The Cyprus international then sped forward down the left flank, passing Villarreal fullback Andrei before sending a low drilled cross into the danger zone, but it was cleared away by Roger. 

After Cantero conceded a penalty kick Villarreal took the lead in the 27th minute of the game. Shortly after the restart Rulo played the ball down the line to Anthony on the left flank. The 22 year old surged past Andrei before attempting to cut the ball back to Pepelu on the edge of the Villarreal box however, Victor was on hand to clear it away from danger. Energetic and constantly on the move, Anthony continued to look for openings in the Villarreal defence. After Pepelu had passed the ball to Anthony down the left side of the Villarreal box, Georgiou tried to sort his feet out but he was closed down and intercepted well by Andrei. Levante’s Pablo Serrano scored an unfortunate own goal to double the visitors advantage shortly before halftime. I was extremely puzzled as to why Anthony was withdrawn at halftime today however, all that matters is how Anthony performed and I thought that he gave another really good account of himself under testing conditions. With his intelligent off the ball movement, ability to get in and behind the Villarreal right back Andrei, and his many surging forward runs offered Levante options which they so desperately needed. 

Anthony Georgiou for Atlético Levante this season:

Appearances: 10

Goals: 1

Assists: 0

Some notes on Spurs youngster Malachi Walcott’s performance against France under 17’s:

Some notes on Spurs youngster Malachi Walcott’s performance against France under 17’s: 

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Spurs’ first year scholar Malachi Walcott (17) was called up to represent the England under 17 national team yesterday for this years Under 17 European Championship. The ‘ Three Lions ‘ first group game of the tournament took place on Friday evening in Longford, Ireland at The City Calling Stadium and Walcott started the match for Steve Cooper’s side. The North London born defender started the game at centre half, playing in the middle of a back three although he would later revert to playing at RCB in a back four. Walcott had a fantastic game for Cooper’s side and he defended imperiously alongside Manchester City’s Taylor Harwood-Bellis, as he helped England to record a 1-1 draw. Walcott started the game well and his first involvement in the game came early on after he was called into action to clear Enzo Millot’s corner kick inside the opening two minutes of the match, at least he managed to get it partially clear. Walcott then managed to head clear Amadou Traore’s resulting corner kick, before he was able to clear Lucien Agoume’s cross a couple of moments later as France continued to start the game well. After receiving Lucien Agoume’s pass inside the England penalty area, Walcott was quick to intercept Georginio Rutter before clearing the ball away from danger. The 17 year old centre half wasn’t afraid to bring the ball out from the back and on one such foray he attempted to play an ambitious through ball towards Sam Greenwood however, Chrislain Matsima managed to get in front of Greenwood and make the interception before then clearing the ball. At the other end of the pitch Walcott attempted to get on the end of Miguel Azeez’s corner kick but France goalkeeper Melvin Zinga managed to claim the ball just before Walcott could connect with it. The Spurs man continued to do well, he was on hand to clear Nathanael Mbuku’s powerful low cross behind for a corner kick at England goalkeeper Louie Moulden’s near post before he managed to clear behind Nathanael Mbuku’s cross from the left wing. The 17 year old continued to stand strong and a matter of moments later he was on hand to head away Amadou Traore’s resulting corner kick before Harwood-Bellis cleared the ball. 

The England defender did well to head away another menacing cross from Nathanael Mbuku before England took the lead in the 34th minute of the game through Sam Greenwood after the ‘ Three Lions ‘ had won a penalty kick after growing into the game. Shortly after the restart Georginio Rutter’s whipped cross was cleared away by the alert Malachi Walcott. Shortly before halftime Walcott was shown a yellow card for a supposed foul on Theo Zidane on the edge of the England box after the France man went on a surging run through the middle of the park. Steve Cooper’s side appeared to revert back to a back four for the beginning of the second half with Walcott operating at RCB. After receiving Amadou Traore’s pass inside the England box, Georginio Rutter turned around before attempting to beat Moulden with a powerful low shot, but Walcott was there to make an important block to put the ball behind for a corner kick. A couple of minutes later the ever threatening France side came close to drawing level. However, after substitute Aouchiche received the ball down the left side of the England box Walcott managed to get in front of his man before clearing the ball behind for a corner. Then a couple of minutes later Walcott managed to sweep clear a cross from Mbuku on the left flank as England continued to defend really well. After Rutter passed the ball to Aouchiche inside the England box the France substitute turned around before shooting but his low effort was well blocked by the feet of Walcott. France were putting increasing pressure on the England defence as the game started to draw to a close. However, for all of Walcott and England’s excellent defending they could do nothing to prevent France from drawing level through Aouchiche in the 78th minute of time. France came close to taking the lead for the first time in the game a couple of minutes later through Traore after he burst down the right side of the England box before having his angles closed down well by Walcott and firing the ball against Louie Moulden’s crossbar. 

A corner from Traore then came to Agoume inside the England box but he was closed down well by Walcott who then blocked his resulting shot on goal. Walcott sliced the resulting corner kick from Agoume narrowly over Louie Moulden’s crossbar a couple of minutes before the England goalkeeper made a fantastic save to deny Agoume, before Walcott then managed to get the ball clear in time. Aouchiche’s late effort was blocked by Walcott inside the England box before Walcott managed to clear behind Mbuku’s cross and then clear away Agoume’s resulting corner kick as both sides had to settle for a 1-1 draw on their opening game. This was an excellent performance from Walcott who defended superbly from the first to the final whistle. The 17 year old made some excellent blocks, interceptions, clearances and he won almost all of his aerial duels. Furthermore, the Spurs youngsters positioning throughout the game was impeccable and his passing was nice and crisp. I thought it was an excellent performance from the composed centre half and it was a performance for which he should be proud of.

An invaluable learning curve – Spurs loanee Samuel Shashoua has played a massive part in Atlético Baleares’ fairytale season and in many ways he has been the beating heart of the team:

An invaluable learning curve – Spurs loanee Samuel Shashoua has played a massive part in Atlético Baleares’ fairytale season and in many ways he has been the beating heart of the team:

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At just 19 year of age Samuel Shashoua made the courageous decision to delve into the unknown, in a foreign and unfamiliar country. The talented young Spurs player made the decision to join Spanish third tier side Atlético Baleares on a season long loan last August, at the time Spurs fans may have been a bit puzzled by this move however, almost nine months on, this loan has really proved to have been a coming of age for one of our most technically gifted young players. What Shashoua has achieved for the ‘ Balearicos ‘ so far this season has been nothing short of remarkable. No one could have predicted that Manix Mandiola’s side would be seven points clear of second place Hercules with only three league games remaining. And while this incredible achievement has been a great team effort, from the 28 of the 30 games that I have watched Samuel play this season, I truly think that the teenager has been the beating heart of this Atlético team. Directly involved in nine goals from 30 competitive games for the Mallorca based club (six goals and three assists), Samuel who has primarily operated out on the left flank in a 4-2-3-1 formation, has so often been the creative spark which Manix Mandiola’s side has so often been reliant on. After arriving on the island back in August to link up with Mandiola’s team, Samuel made an almost instant impact on the side. During his first four games Shashoua was an unknown quantity in a league which is used to teams playing like 2011/12 style Stoke City. Shashoua’s directness, mesmerising weaving forward runs and his strength on the ball stunned oppositions defences during those early games, and the new arrival caused no end of problems for them. Shashoua’s exciting style of play had the passionate Atlético fans up on their feet in awe every time Samuel was on the ball, and his impressive early start to life in the third tier of Spanish football resulted in Samuel being involved in four goals from his opening ten games. While his goal involvement statistics did dry up after that, this was down to the fact that teams were focusing on Shashoua down the left hand channel and putting more than one defender on him, so as to neutralise the threat in which he posed.

However, Samuel’s impact on the team certainly didn’t dry up and after adapting his game to deal with the physicality of the league and at times the brutality of it, Samuel continued to pull the strings from out on the left flank. Fiercely intelligent, agile, sharp but above all else determined. Determined to impact games, to create pockets of space for himself and to initiate chances for the likes of other attacking players such as Nuha Marong who he has a great on field relationship with, and Marcos De la Espada and Canario. Shashoua’s typically unselfish style of play may have gone under the radar at times but this is exactly the same player who I’ve watched carving open defences for both our under 18’s and 23’s in recent seasons. The young artist as I like to call him, has arguably been Atlético’s most influential player this season. With his darting forward runs, exceptional vision, deftly accurate passing and tireless defensive work making him an invaluable member of the ‘ Balearicos ‘ squad. Furthermore, Shashoua is very much a team player and some of his link up play with his teammates particularly with Gambia international Nuha who he combined with a lot during the early parts of the season has been sensational. This loan move has meant that Samuel as he is affectionately known by the Atlético faithful, has been playing against grown men on a weekly basis, and this is something which will massively aid his development as a footballer. I noticed from quite early on into Shashoua’s loan that he has bulked up considerably since last season and while he was always very strong on the ball, he has definitely become a lot more physical this season. However, Atlético’s second top scorer this season hasn’t had life easy despite how well he has settled down to life in sunny Mallorca. The Spanish Segunda Division B Group III is anything but a league where attractive football is played, something which will come as a surprise to the many of you who would envisage tiki-taka football being played by every single team in the league. The only time that I have seen such football played in this league has been whenever Samuel has come up against any of the B teams. Instead the league is very direct, it is physical perhaps not too different to its English equivalent.

At times during the current season Samuel has been literally kicked about the park. Kneed continually in the back as he attempts to get to the ball, and tripped and kicked on a weekly basis. Shashoua has had to learn to and adapt to the big cultural difference, and how football is played, because for somebody who has grown up in a category one academy side the style of football which is played and the quality of the training facilities is on a completely different par to a club like Atlético Baleares. However, as I have mentioned on numerous occasions in the past, Samuel’s style of play makes him very well suited to the Spanish game. Shashoua is as we all know a very technical player who understands the intricacies of the game. As a winger he is unpredictable and with his weaving forward runs, two footedness and ability to penetrate defences he is a very dangerous player who loves to try his luck on goal on the edge of the oppositions penalty area. However, he is also a very creative player whose vision, craft and guile has always resulted in him creating a lot of goalscoring chances for his teammates, and that has been no different this season. Without doubt Manix Mandiola’s sides most creative player, Samuel has created more chances than any other Atlético player this season and that comes as no surprise to me. Shashoua carries the ball really well out on the flanks and it is his unpredictably, flair and good reading of the game which allows him to work defenders so hard. He sees things that other players don’t see, and he does things with a ball which very few can do. On a number of occasions this season the 19 year old has embarked on some mesmeric forward runs, with excellent skill and balance enabling him to turn defenders inside out. His newfound strength has also made it even harder for players to dislodge him of the ball. So often the difference which Atlético have needed this season, like a player such as Marcus Edwards, Samuel can change a game in the blink of an eye. He only needs to receive the ball in space to create a chance or look to beat a couple of defenders before testing the goalkeeper with one his trademark curling efforts. 

Samuel has singlehandedly won league games against the likes of Atlético Levante, Olot and Ejea. His sharp twists and turns, fancy skillset and all round intelligent play has been far too much for some of the experienced players in this league to deal with this season. The intensity and the aggression in which Samuel plays with for the full 90 minutes of a game is something which the players in this league aren’t used to. They aren’t used to seeing a teenager move around the pitch as well as Samuel does for the entirety of a match and they certainly aren’t used to a young player tracking back and defending as well as Samuel does. A real grafter, the West London born forward has always worked exceptionally hard on the pitch but this season in particular he has taken that to a whole different level. So often for Atlético I have seen Shashoua sprinting back 35-40 yards in order to help out his left back, or to make an interception or a challenge. Shashoua’s aggressive pressing has forced many errors out of defenders this season and it has in turn created openings for the Atlético front line. When I see Samuel pick the ball up in a crowded space and skilfully dance his way around four or five opposition players I am reminded of the great potential in which he has. Samuel has become quicker this season and his stamina has undoubtedly improved however, for all of his attributes which he has improved and for all he has achieved playing out on the left wing for Atlético Baleares there is one thing which is more important than all of those things put together, and that is playing competitive men’s football on a weekly basis. The power of a good loan is something which can never be sniffed at and it has often been a stepping stone into the first team of their parent club. Experiencing the pressure of lower league football in a foreign country along with the experienced professionals which you are coming up against is invaluable for a young players personal development. Shashoua has had to up his game since joining Atlético but he has also had to grow up both on and off the field. No longer used to the luxuries which come with training at Hotspur Way and the great accommodation which comes with it. Samuel has had to cook for himself on a daily basis out in Mallorca, he has also had to adapt to a totally different way of life. Although he already had a very good command of the Spanish language owing to his Spanish and Venezuelan heritage, before making the trip to Mallorca. Shashoua has had to pick up different dialects and new phrases so as to communicate effectively with his teammates out on the pitch. 

A definite contender for Atlético’s player of the season Samuel Shashoua has defied expectations at the Balearic club this season. Working his magic at every opportunity, Shashoua has without waxing lyrical been the beating heart of this hugely overachieving team, who are within touching distance of being crowned champions of the the Spanish Segunda Division B Group III, and booking their place in a two legged play off match to try and secure promotion to the Spanish La Liga 2. The season still has at least five games remaining for Samuel who unlike last season has managed to stay injury free for much of this campaign. What happens if Atlético do win promotion to the La Liga 2, does Samuel stay on loan at Atlético for another season? Or does he return to his boyhood club and try and fight for a place in the first team squad. Whatever happens at the end of the season there will be no end to La Liga 2 clubs, EFL clubs and even La Liga clubs looking to get Samuel to join them on loan, and this is a testament to the fantastic season that the youngster is having in Spain. I have long hoped that Samuel will get another chance for Spurs at first team level. Over two years has past since the then 17 year old appeared on the bench for Mauricio Pochettino’s first team in a Premier League game against Leicester City. Now after a frustrating 2017/18 season Shashoua surely has to be back on the cusp of featuring for Pochettino’s side in the forthcoming pre-season with Spurs’ first team scheduled to play five pre-season friendlies this summer, Shashoua must have a big chance of making his debut for the Tottenham first team. The experience of playing in Spain has helped Samuel no ends and it will continue to do so over the coming months ahead. I personally think that he is ready to make that big step up to the Tottenham first team next season, at least in one of the five friendlies which are being played over the course of this summer. Both physically and mentally I believe that Shashoua is ready to play for Spurs’ first team and this excellent loan for Atlético Baleares just reaffirms my belief in him and the potential in which he has.

Shashoua is thoroughly enjoying his time in Mallorca and he is currently in good form having been directly involved in three goals from his last three games for the ‘ Balearicos ‘. Up next for Samuel and Atlético is an away game against Badalona on Sunday morning. Samuel ‘ Shashowa ‘ as he has been nicknamed in the local press on the island, has been a revelation for Manix Mandiola’s side this season impressing with his razor sharp movement, ability to dictate play and create chances from out on the left wing, and of course his outstanding dribbling ability. For such a cultured young player I really cannot wait for him to return to Spurs in the summer and really make a push for the first team, and hopefully force his way into Mauricio Pochettino’s plans. Technically he is the best player that i have ever seen play for Spurs at youth level, but most importantly of all he is a greats sportsman and a very polite young man. I would like to wish Samuel and Atlético all the very best of luck for their remaining games this season and I sincerely hope that they get promoted to the La Liga 2. Finally if you could all vote for Samuel in the link provided below for an end of season award, I am sure that he would greatly appreciate it. 

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