My interview with former Spurs man Ross Darcy:
The year was 1996, Spurs had just been beaten by an illustrious Manchester United team, in a nail biting penalty shoot out in the final of the FA youth cup at Old Trafford. A player who was playing that day, was the immensely talented Irishman Ross Darcy, the young centre half was a player tipped for stardom. Since joining the club as a kid in 1994 from across the water, Darcy went on to rise up through the ranks in the Spurs academy. Representing his country all the way up to the Ireland under 21 team, Darcy seemed to be heading for a successful career with the lilywhites and for his country, Ireland. Fast forward just 8 years and Darcy’s career as a footballer was over, taken so cruelly away from him by a series of devastating injuries. I caught up with the former Spurs starlet to talk to him about his time at Spurs and career as a whole.
What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?
Ross: My earliest memories were obviously the big name players you are around daily. Getting settled into my digs was also quite a big thing to get used to. I played in a tournament in Northern Ireland called the Milk Cup and was spotted there. It came down to a decision between Man Utd and Spurs who to sign for. It just felt more comfortable at Tottenham at the time.
What was your time at Spurs like on the whole?
Ross: I loved every minute of it. It is such a special club.
Could you talk me through your memories of that FA youth cup run of 1995/96, a competition you came with in touching distance of winning?
Ross: That was amazing… I remember David Pleat was commentating on the first leg live at white hart lane and had given me man of the match and as soon as he said that I made a mistake that allowed Terry Cooke to equalize for Man Utd. We lost on penalties in the second leg at Old Trafford but a special memory all the same.
Who were your greatest influences at the club?
Ross: Chris Houghton and Sol Campbell.
Who was your footballing inspiration/hero?
Ross: Paul McGrath
I’ve asked you a lot about your time kicking a ball at Spurs, but what was it like off the field. Adapting to a new country/culture in a big city like London?
Ross: It was tough to get used to living in a big city like London especially coming from a small village just outside Dublin. I got used to it very quick and I love London and visit it all the time now.
Do you remember your first youth game at Spurs and if so who were the opposition?
Ross: I don’t actually but I do remember playing against the reserves on my first day. That team included some well know players and future stars.
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?
Ross: I was very close to Stephen Clemence and Neale Fenn. Neale lives in Ireland now and manages Longford Town. We see each other as much as we can.
Who was the greatest player that you ever played alongside?
Ross: Sol Campbell and it’s tough to pick also between Teddy Sherrinham and Jurgen Klinnsman.
After leaving Spurs you went on to play for a couple of clubs before your retirement, including Barnet and Dundalk. What were your footballing experiences like post Spurs?
Ross: They weren’t great to be perfectly honest. I had done so much damage to my knee that I couldn’t play or do the same things on the pitch that I was used too. That was frustrating.
What was the pinnacle of your career?
Ross: Two things – winning young player of the year at Tottenham and representing my country.
Were there any members of the first team squad that you used to watch closely?
Ross: Being a defender it would always be Sol Campbell but I also loved to watch David Ginola on the training pitch, some of the skills he had were phenomenal.
What would your advice be to the current Spurs Academy players as they look to find their way in the game?
Ross: Always have something to fall back on. There are so many players from around the world now even in youth teams it can be hard to make it. If you are dedicated you will certainly give yourself a good shot.
What was it like to represent your country at youth level?
Ross: It is always an honour to represent your country. I was lucky enough to do it from under 15 level all the way up to Under 21.