My interview with former Spurs Academy player Andy Theodosiou:
I caught up with former Spurs youth player Andy Theodosiou, a familiar name for those of you who followed the football league during the 1990’s. Andy who operated as both a centre half and holding midfielder is fondly remembered for his stint with the now defunct Hereford United, but also enjoyed spells with the likes of Norwich, Brighton and even Cypriot giants APOEL Nicosia. I had the great pleasure of talking to the tenacious and tough tackling Theodosiou about his time in the Tottenham Hotspur youth set up and resulting years in the game.
What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?
Andy: I remember my first day at Spurs training, it was on a Monday evening. I
turned up thinking I had been invited down but was told I shouldn’t have been
there. They let me train and afterwards I asked the coach if he wanted me to
come back? He said there was a match next week (October half term) and he
only had 11 players & I could be sub. The previous season I was at Arsenal, they had released me at the end of that season when I was 13. A number of the boys in my Sunday team were training at Spurs and thats how the mistake happened (that I thought I’d been invited down to spurs). I went to the match and I was a sub… I can’t remember who we played but at half time it was 1-0. The Coach put me on centre midfield (one of the first things I learnt, if you are going to look at a player ask him where he wants to play to give him the best chance to show what he can do). We went on to win 7-1 and I scored a hat trick. The next training session I was called into an office and signed associate schoolboy forms for Spurs. That week I played in a district match at Arsenal (on the astro behind the clock end) and scored 4 in a 4-2 win. Arsenal then asked me to go back. NO WAY!
What was your time at Spurs like on the whole?
Andy: To play at a club like Spurs was an honour. I had 3 years as a schoolboy & 2 years as an apprentice…..brilliant experience and memories.
Who was your footballing inspiration/hero?
Andy: I didn’t have any footballing heroes. I just loved to play football as much
as possible and watch at every opportunity.
Who were your greatest influences at the club?
Andy: My biggest influence was Keith Walden. He took us from u15s and ended up youth coach in my final season taking over from Keith Blunt. An excellent coach and I owe him a huge thank you. If I had listened to him a bit more I would have been a much better player. He was coach when they won the FA youth cup in 1990.
Were there any other players at the club or outside who you’d model your game around?
Andy: I wouldn’t model my game on anyone but I would watch and try to pick things up from other players. I found the best way to learn was playing alongside someone. So at Spurs I was very lucky in the central defensive partners that I had. In the youth team playing alongside Guy Butters. Reserves Neil Ruddock, John Polston, Brian Statham and Chris Hughton. Chris Hughton was excellent with us young players, always helping and giving advice. I can see why/how he has become a top manager. People forget what a top player he was.
What was the toughest thing about being an academy footballer?
Andy: Toughest things to deal with: Having a bad game or training session. The
coach would tell you if you messed up in training often shouting his abuse at
us. Worse if you made a mistake on a matchday or had a poor game. You had
to deal with it and not let it affect your next training session or match. I think
it toughened me up. As I went through my career I could bounce back from a poor performance or bad defeat.
How did your time as a youth player at Spurs prepare you for your later career?
Andy: Answered a bit in previous question. Add to that, knowledge of how to play yours or any position on the pitch. In my first year I played right back,
centre back, right & centre midfield and was used on a few occassions as a
striker. I enjoyed playing different positions, I think it really helped my understanding of the game. You were expected to give a decent performance
wherever you were played in the team.
Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories from your time as a youth player at Tottenham Hotspur?
Andy: So many good memories on and off the pitch. Start with a bad one leading 4-0 at swindon in a youth game with 20 mins to go. We end up hanging on for a 4-4 draw & Dave Mcdonald scored one of the best own goals I’ve ever seen, it was like Dowie’s famous og for the hammers. A bullet header into bottom corner. Winning league in both seasons I was there. Scoring 2 in reserves 2-0 win over Chelsea. The highlight was winning league cup v Southampton in final over 2 legs. They had a really good side with Shearer upfront, the Wallace twins, Steve Davis [played for Burnley] plus a few others who had pro careers. We won at home 2-1. 2nd leg was a brilliant match, we went 2-0 up early 2nd half [4-1 on aggregate]. They came back 2-2 with about 15 mins to go. We hung on for a 4-3 win but last 10 mins we hardly got out of our box.
We lost a FA youth cup semi final v Doncaster which was a huge
disappointment….losing 1-2 away then after leading 1-0 and going into extra
time conceding in last minute to lose 2-3. Arsenal won the final which was a
disappointment for us because we all felt we would beat them as we had done so in the league twice that season.
Could you talk me through your career after you left Spurs?
Andy: Norwich 2yrs, Hereford utd 2 yrs, 2 yrs in Cyprus playing for APOEL Nicosia & AEL limassol. Dover conference 2 yrs. After Dover I played for a number of non league clubs; Billericay, Harlow, Windsor, then player coach at Arlesey Town & Hemel Hempstead.
What was the pinnacle of your footballing career?
Andy: I wouldn’t say I had a pinnacle but highlight was playing Nottingham Forest away in the FA cup 4th round in 1992. Clough manager, Roy Keane, Des Walker, Stuart Pearce & I marked Teddy Sheringham (never got near him all day) all played. We lost 0-2.
Who was the greatest player that you had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with?
Andy: From the match above Roy Keane. After he put in a nasty challenge on one of our players, our captain said to him “no need for that Roy you’re a better player than that”. I dont think he took too much notice of that comment.
What would your advice be to the current Spurs academy players, as they look to make their way up the footballing pyramid?
Andy: To try and improve everyday, listen and take in as much as possible from your coaches. Always be willing to do extra training….don’t wait to be asked go and do the extra training yourself.
Are you still involved in the game?
Andy: I coached a few non league clubs up to a few years ago. I did enjoy it but
non league is tough and takes up a lot of time with little reward.
Are you still in contact with any of your former Tottenham team mates?
Andy: Over the years I have come across quite a few old Spurs boys. Danny Hill, Jeff Minton, Dave mcDonald plus a few others. Paul Moran when I see him we always have a chat. Trevor Wilkinson I played with at Harlow and Arlesey. Steve Smart I speak to occasionally.