The continued improvement of young Spurs goalkeeper Brandon Austin:
In my report of our under 23’s 1-0 win over Leicester City last week I promised that I would write an in-depth piece on a player who was instrumental in that win. 19 year old goalkeeper Brandon Austin of Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, is a young man who has made huge strides within the Spurs academy set up over the last couple of seasons. Austin was a mainstay in the development side during the 2017/18 campaign after making the permanent step up to that level, after spending the majority of his two year scholarship in the under 18 side. Austin’s footballing journey so far has been an interesting one and the expert shot stopper is a goalkeeper who has performed consistently for the development side and the under 19’s over the past two seasons. Austin has represented both England and the United States at youth level and he also remains eligible to represent the U.S. Virgin Islands. With his strong wrists, excellent shot stopping ability and his impressive leadership skills, Austin has greatly impressed me ever since he joined the club full time in the summer of 2015. The former Chelsea schoolboy is a charismatic and exceptionally talented young goalkeeper. And whilst it is rare for me to write such pieces on goalkeepers, I feel that the form and consistency of the teenager over the past couple of seasons has been far too good to ignore. We are lucky to have some of the most promising young goalkeepers in the country on our books at the academy. With the likes of Alfie Whiteman, Jonathan De Bie and Charlie Freeman just some of the talented young goalkeepers that we have coming through at Hotspur Way. All of these players are at different stages of their development and I for one think it is wrong for fans to compare our goalkeepers with one another at this period in their footballing development. Hence why you’ll never see me come out and say that in my opinion so and so has the highest ceiling, or that goalkeeper A is a better prospect than goalkeeper B.
Hertfordshire born Brandon Austin has spent the majority of his life at Spurs following his release from London rivals Chelsea as a schoolboy. Although Austin struggled for consistent game time during his first year of scholarship, when the goalkeeper only made 5 appearances for our under 18 side during the 2015/16 season. It was during the teenagers second year of scholarship where he started to make huge strides within the academy set up. Despite having to compete with Alfie Whiteman, Jonathan De Bie and Charlie Freeman for a spot in the under 18 side during the 2016/17 season. The talented Austin managed to make more appearances for the under 18’s than any other goalkeeper that season (16). The second year scholar also put in some eye catching performances for McDermott’s under 18 side. Most notable of which came in the first leg of our FA youth cup semifinal against Chelsea in the April of that season. Austin’s heroics at the lane on that spring evening against the blues, drew praise from far and wide. Austin made many outstanding saves against Chelsea in that semifinal to keep the scores at a respectable 2-1 going into the second leg. In that same season Brandon went onto feature twice for the development side in the PL2, and once for the under 19 side in the UEFA youth league. However, it was during last season (2017/18) where Austin’s quality and consistency really stood out at development side level. Having long been a fan of the tall and commanding goalkeeper it was wonderful to watch Austin make the permanent step up to the development side for the 2017/18 season. Impressive in so many ways Austin’s maturity, leadership and ability to perform at a consistent level for both the under 23’s in the PL2 and the under 19’s in the UEFA youth league, was so impressive for that of a young developing goalkeeper.
After traveling with the first team to the United States for the 2017 pre-season tour of the country which he has represented at youth level, owing to his father Neville who was a talented basketball player. Brandon came back to England with a spring in his step and the teenager quickly converted the previous seasons form for the under 18 side into the development side for the 17/18 season. Competing with another talented young goalkeeper in Alfie Whiteman for a starting berth in Wayne Burnett’s development side. Austin went onto make 12 appearances for Burnett’s side that season, he also went onto play an important role in our under 19’s successful UEFA youth league campaign. Austin played seven of our under 19’s eight European games and he played a big part in us reaching the quarterfinals of that competition, following his penalty shootout heroics against Monaco in the round of 16. Further to that, Brandon also made two appearances for our under 18’s as an overage goalkeeper for Scott Parker’s side whilst also training regularly with the first team squad throughout the season. As well as representing the United States under 18 side that season, Austin was also called up to the England under 19’s squad as a standby goalkeeper for that summers European championships. What impressed me so much last season was not only Austin’s shot stopping ability and consistency to perform at under 21/23 level, but also his confidence in high pressure situations. He put in many excellent performances at that level. Of the many games that come to mind are his excellent performances against both AFC Wimbledon in the Checkatrade trophy and his match winning performance against Monaco in the last 16 of the UEFA youth league. In both of those particular games his quality really shone through, he read both games exceptionally well but he also showed a maturity to deal with difficult situations which was well beyond his years.
Carrying on from last seasons successes on a personal level Austin has begun the 2018/19 season in similarly impressive form. He has so far made four appearances for Burnett’s development side this season including a heroic performance against Manchester City in the PL2 where he made at least eight saves in a 2-0 win for Spurs. In addition to his regular involvement with the development side, Austin is also the first choice goalkeeper for the under 19’s in the UEFA youth league where he has already started all three of our games so far this campaign. Austin was included in the first team squad which travelled to the United States for the second successive season in the summer, and after signing a new contract last season Austin has also been given the squad number 49 for this seasons premier league campaign. Austin who turns 20 in January is one of my favourite young goalkeepers for a number of reason after having watched him for so long. However, I’d go one step further than that by saying that he is one of England’s most promising young goalkeepers. He is an excellent shot stopper who has strong wrists and razor sharp reflexes, he is also extremely quick on his feet. And this helps Austin to get into the necessary positions which are needed in order to make those all important saves. Yes, he may have the odd mistake in his game just like every other goalkeeper on the planet, but he is an extremely attentive young man. For example his performance against Arsenal in the PL2 earlier on in the season showcased many of his most impressive attributes. The 19 year old was my man of the match in our under 23’s poor 2-1 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates back in September. Despite it being his first appearance for the development side since the previous April, Austin looked as sharp as ever following his return from a recent injury. He pulled off a string of superb saves as well as an excellent diving one to deny Arsenal’s Charlie Gilmour from the penalty spot towards the end of the game, which one of his goalkeeping idols Petr Cech would have been proud of.
However, Austin also showed exemplary leadership skills and an alertness to deal with set pieces so effectively during that game. The teenager is as good as any English shot stopper his age but what has always amazed me about Austin is how athletic he is. He has that rare ability to collapse his body so quickly in order to make that all important save to deny almost certain goals for the opposition, perhaps his years of playing Basketball at secondary school have something to do with his outstanding reflexes. Furthermore, he is much, much more than an expert shot stopper. He is very quick on his feet and is always good at closing players down in one on one situations. His distribution is mostly impressive and most importantly of all he has an unflappable confidence about his game. Austin is strong, assertive and confident, and over the last couple of years he has really improved with how he deals with set pieces and crosses. Something which so many young English goalkeepers lack is that almost Grobbelaar-esque confidence and assertiveness to their game. However, Austin is one of the most confident young goalkeepers that I have ever come across during my time reporting on our youth team. He is always first to every corner kick and cross which comes his way, and he is never afraid to take risks in such high pressure situations. His confidence also links into his leadership which is so good for that of a goalkeeper his age. The way in which he lines up his defence for free kicks and set pieces, and the way in which he talks them through games with such authority is yet another of his most impressive attributes. A perfect example of this occurred right at the death of our under 23’s 1-0 win over Leicester City last Friday. Austin who was the skipper for that game made some excellent saves to keep out the foxes potent attack, whilst also managing to do a sterling job with the many set pieces that came his way. In the 96th minute of that game a late Leicester corner kick resulted in the foxes goalkeeper Viktor Johanson travelling all the way up the pitch to bolster his sides chances of netting a late equaliser.
After Austin had come out to claim the ball, Johanson prevented Austin from taking an early goal kick by taking hold of the Spurs mans leg. This was a mistake from the young Swede and Austin was furious with him, and he rightly gave him a good old lecture about sportsmanship. This is the passion and the confidence which I have been talking about and I find it so refreshing to see from young goalkeepers, many of whom don’t have that about their game. I am not overhyping Austin when I say that he will be a premier league goalkeeper at some point in the future. I say that because for me he has all the vital attributes that are needed in order to perform at the highest level in the game, on a regular basis. Austin is still only 19 years of age and in terms of his footballing career these are still very early days. However, Brandon has made enormous strides over the past couple of years to work his way up the various youth ranks at Spurs in order to catch the attention of both the English and American football associations, Austin was most recently called up to the England under 20 side over the recent international break. I think it’s important for the teenager from Hemel Hempstead to continue to perform consistently at development side level to get regular game time this season in order to aid his own development as a player. If ever there was a goalkeeping injury crisis at Spurs I personally would have absolutely no worries about putting the charismatic and talented goalkeeper right into the thick of first team action. Up next for Brandon is our under 23’s PL2 game against Derby County on Sunday, a game in which the inform youngster will be hoping to start in. Brandon should be immensely proud of how excellently he is doing and how much of a positive effect he is having on our under 23 side!