My interview with former Spurs academy player Narada Bernard:
Once again I had the great pleasure of being able to interview one of our former players. Narada Bernard was a part of the Spurs academy set up since he was 7 years of age before departing for Arsenal in 1999. I spoke to the former left back and Jamaican international about his time in the academy set up, and the interesting career he had after.
What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?
Narada: My earliest memories are me training in Redborn with the school of excellence. Ron Henry was my coach at the time. He actually scouted me playing for my Sunday league team Harrow Hawks at the time.
What was your time at Spurs like on the whole?
Narada: Best time of my life.
The experience of seeing top class players day in day out and getting to train with them at times was every wannabe footballers dream.
Who was your footballing inspiration/hero?
Narada: Pele. When I told my dad I wanted to be a footballer at the age of 7 he brought me all the Pele videos for me to study. I ended up calling my son Pele so I guess I really do look up to him as a footballer.
Who were your greatest influences at the club?
Narada: My manager Bob Arber was a big influence as he believed in me and always encouraged me to be better. I was never a world beater but on my day I could turn a few heads. Also Chris Houghton was someone I looked up to, he also helped me develop my skills. He was the first team coach and didn’t really have to take the time to help me as I was just in the youth team. So I was very grateful when he would pull me aside to work on my weaknesses.
Were there any other players at the club or outside, who you’d model your game around?
Narada: I loved Roberto Carlos. I basically tried to play like him as a young kid. I had similar attributes to my game, obviously nowhere near his level but I would always watch him when he was on TV. I also loved Ronaldo (the Brazilian). He was the best player I had actually seen play in my generation. So powerful, skilful and intelligent at the same time. Top top player!!
What was the toughest thing about being a young up and coming player during that time?
Narada: Breaking into the first team was a tough ask. Compared to today players have plenty of opportunities to play first team football with all the different cups. From my youth team only Ledley King, Alton Thelwell and Peter Crouch that made it into the first team. I’m convinced that if my team was to be playing today we would have represented more that just 3 players making an appearance.
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?
Narada: Ledley king and Alton. We are all still very close.
What was your greatest memory from your time at the lilywhites?
Narada: Probably our Dallas’s cup competitions the states. It was in my final season at spurs and it was close to decision time for players that didn’t have a pro contract yet. I played out of my skin that tournament knowing I was touch and go if regarding pro.
Could you talk me through your career after you left Spurs?
Narada: Wow how long have you got??
I joined Arsenal as professional after That it was as follows
Hemel Hempstead Town
St Albans…… that’s a lot of clubs.
What was the pinnacle of your footballing career?
Narada: Playing for the Jamaican National Team.
Who was the greatest player that you ever played alongside?
Narada: Jermaine Defoe but I also had the pleasure of playing in a testimonial at Bournemouth with Ryan Giggs.
What would your advice be to the current Spurs academy players, as they look to make their way up the footballing pyramid?
Narada: Work hard, train hard and invest your money into property.