My interview with former Spurs Academy player Mark Arber:
I had the great pleasure to interview former Spurs Academy player Mark Arber about his time at the club. The South African footballer who many will remember from his time at Dagenham and Redbridge and Barnet, went on to have a hugely successful career as a centre half after leaving the lilywhites.
Questions: What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?
Mark: I was playing as a striker for a local club in the Echo league called Lakeview. I was scouted by Len Cheesewright who took me in at 8. I remember the old ball court at white hart lane, training on Tues and Thurs night and picking up my £2 expenses.
What was your time at Spurs like on the whole?
Mark: Enjoyable, I could have left as a kid to join Man Utd or Arsenal but even though i supported one of them (won’t say which one) I was happy in the environment I was in. I signed as a 9 year old and left as a 21 year old so it was all in all a great time.
Were there any players at Spurs who you’d watch closely in training during your academy years?
Mark: Quinton Fortune early on was magnificent in the indoor ball court.
As a pro it was Jurgen Klinsmann, he trained as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen.
Who has the toughest opposition player that you ever came up against?
Mark: I had the very fortunate experience of playing against Dennis Bergkamp in a behind closed doors game at Highbury.
Who was your footballing inspiration/hero?
Mark: Paulo Maldini or Franco Baresi. I converted into a centre half and these 2 were all time greats
How did your years as a young player at Spurs serve you throughout your career as a professional footballer?
Mark: It was the perfect education, like being at school. Those early years set me up for life.
After leaving Spurs in 1998 you went on to enjoy a hugely successful footballing career with the likes of Barnet, Peterborough and Dagenham and Redbridge? Could you talk me through some your memories from that time?
Mark: I played over 650 career games which in the modern era is a hell of an achievement to be proud of. Captaining Dagenham and Redbridge to the league 2 play off final at Wembley ranks as my finest hour.
Are you still in contact with any of your former Spurs team mates?
Mark: Yes loads. In the modern era with social media it’s easy to keep in touch. A lot are still in football in some capacity too and so we often cross paths.
Who were you greatest influences at the club?
Mark: My father was an obvious help. I’d often get accused of nepotism but in all honesty I was single minded and overcame many obstacles along the way. Player wise Sol Campbell and Gary Mabbutt gave me great encouragement when I was on the fringes of the first team.
Who in your eyes was the most talented player that you played with at Spurs?
Mark: David Ginola and Gazza are the obvious ones that spring to mind
As somebody that is still involved in the game what would your advice be to the current Spurs academy players as they look to find their way in the game?
Mark: Don’t take anything for granted, work hard everyday, continue to look to improve. Off the field stay humble, appreciate what you’ve got and play with a smile on your face.