My piece on our under 18’s captain fantastic Armando Shashoua and just why he will be so important to Spurs achieving success in the FA Youth cup this season:

My piece on our under 18’s captain fantastic Armando Shashoua and just why he will be so important to Spurs achieving success in the FA Youth cup this season:

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Armando Shashoua is a player who you’ll all know that I’m a massive fan of, if you have been reading my reports over the last couple of seasons. Shashoua has enjoyed an excellent start to the 2018/19 season and the 18 year old is one of the main reasons why our under 18’s are doing so well this campaign. Armando has captained Matt Wells side in all but one under 18 game this season, and the second year scholar has already played a part in 12 of their goals this campaign. Shashoua who joined the academy full time in the summer of 2017 is a player who perhaps hasn’t received an awful lot of hype from Spurs fans until recently. However the West London born Shashoua has been terrifically consistent since making the step up to under 18 level last season. In the following piece I will be going into great detail about what type of player Armando is, and just why our under 18’s captain fantastic could be crucial to Spurs winning the FA youth cup for the first time in 29 years this season. Like his older brother Samuel, Armando is from West London and although he spent two years of his childhood in Russia, Shashoua has been at Spurs since a very young age just like his brother. A ridiculously hardworking and technically gifted central midfielder, Shashoua is a player who has started the 2018/19 season in excellent fashion. Directly involved in 12 goals for our under 18’s this season (four goals and eight assists) Shashoua has developed a cutting edge about his game which wasn’t as evident last season. The Chelsea born teenager who was once called up to represent England under 15’s at a training camp back in 2016, made his debut for our under 18’s back in February 2017 as a substitute in a league game against Aston Villa. A player who I have long been told great things about, Shashoua really sprung to prominence amongst followers of the Spurs youth teams last season, in his first year of scholarship. The Harrow educated footballer made 22 appearances for our under 18’s that season, he also appeared on the bench for our under 19’s in Europe on several occasions.

Operating primarily as a number ten during the 2017/18 campaign, young Armando was a fascinating player to watch from a tactical point of view. From those 22 appearances for Scott Parker’s under 18 side Shashoua only scored and assisted once. However, his influence on the side was immense and I quickly began to appreciate just how important he was to the team from the very moment that he wasn’t playing. Impressing with his extremely high work rate, tigerish pressing and accurate passing, Shashoua was a regular starter for Scott Parker’s side for the majority of that season. Very unselfish and almost Winks-esque in his style of play, Shashoua’s first assist for our under 18’s was a clever headed pass against Aston Villa back in March, whilst his first goal came only a couple of weeks later in a 2-1 victory over Fulham, it was a lovely sweet strike from long range. After travelling to Germany the following month with our under 19’s along with his brother Samuel in the Volksbank cup, Armando made a couple of appearances for Spurs in that competition to cap off an excellent season for the first year scholar. Now in his second year of scholarship Armando impressed in preseason for our under 21’s at the Tournoi Europeen in France, before also impressing for our under 19’s in the Oberndorf tournament in Germany less than a week later. Since the start of the domestic season back in August, Armando has been our 18’s most important player for Matt Wells high flying side. No longer operating as a number ten, Shashoua is now playing solely as a central midfielder and he has already started all 11 of our under 18’s games this season, he also came off the bench to make his UEFA youth league debut for our under 19’s in a 1-1 draw against Barcelona at Hotspur Way back in October. Then as recently as this month he made his debut for the development side after he came on as a late substitute in our 3-2 defeat to Portsmouth at Fratton Park, in the Checkatrade trophy. The 18 year old’s form which has seen him directly involved in 12 goals from his 13 appearances this season has been a major factor in our under 18’s superb start to the season. After taking the captains armband in our under 18’s 5-1 win over Swansea back in August for the first time, Shashoua has been the captain in every game since for Matt Wells side, and he has shown remarkable leadership skills so far this season.

Eligible to represent England, Spain, USA, Venezuela and Egypt at international level, Armando really reminds me of a young Spanish player in his style of play. An intricate central midfielder who will often switch positions and change his shape throughout matches, despite being of small build and more than often the shortest player on the pitch, he is able to combine all the traits of an industrious midfielder with the silkiness and smoothness of a more advanced player like David Silva. Silva is a player who I have long compared Shashoua with for a number of reasons. He is so well rounded and versatile despite being such a small player, the West Londoner is a cultured player who adapts well to the flow of a game. Usually the more advanced of the two central midfielders in the under 18 side, Shashoua loves to make clever and well timed runs off the shoulders of defenders. Like somebody such as David Silva he is always on the move and is constantly looking to get into little pockets of space around the six yard box. For a central midfielder he is quite an unpredictable player whose jinking runs and darting movement is a constant pain for opposition defenders, who struggle to keep up with the little midfield orchestrator. I can remember when I first saw Armando make the step up for our under 18’s. It was a league fixture against Leicester at their Belvoir drive training ground back in August of 2017. I was expecting to see a player much like Samuel who would drift out onto the flanks and start beating players at will with his jinking runs and quick feet. However, I quickly found out that Armando is a completely different player who plays in a completely different position to his brother. Combining brains with brawn, Shashoua is one of the hardest workers on a football field that I have ever seen. With his aggressive pressing and constant chasing down of opposition players, the teenager is a real grafter whose ball retention rate and willingness to drop deep in order to break up play and recycle possession, are key features of his game.

The technically gifted midfielder is excellent with the ball in tight spaces, and his skill and balance helps him to carry the ball well and to wriggle out of potentially dangerous situations. If you watch David Silva play regularly then you will also notice that he is very good in tight spaces. Whilst he is a player who keeps the game ticking with a lot of short and simple but slick passes, Shashoua is also a midfield orchestrator who reads the game so very well. He can pick a pass with precision and the sheer deftness and weight, as well as the variety of his passing is something which can change a game in an instance. He is such an intelligent player who is often given the ball by his teammates because they know just how much of a creative force he can be. Shashoua rarely wastes a pass and it is that crucial ability not only to pick a pass but also to see an opening in the first place, which is such an impressive part of the youngsters game. As central midfielders go Armando is one of the most well rounded in the Spurs academy set up. He has that tenacity and almost terrier like hunger needed in order to constantly press players and force mistakes from the opposition. But he also has the intricacy and intelligence that his brother Samuel has in the final third. However, he is an incredibly unselfish player and like somebody such as Harry Winks he is often very reluctant to have a pop from range, instead opting to pass to a teammate in a better or more advanced position. Shashoua has an excellent first touch and his close ball control is second to none. I can remember last season in our premier league cup semifinal against Arsenal, when he shrugged off an Arsenal defender before plucking the ball out of the air as if he had pillowcases on his boots. Another thing about Armando’s game is his strength on the ball. Despite being such a small player Shashoua is able to surprise opposition players who will often try to bully him by kicking and pushing about during matches. A calm and collected character, Armando never reacts and his strength and ability to hold up the ball is actually one of his most impressive attributes. 

The point I’m trying to make is that Armando Shashoua is a richly talented midfielder who has a wide ranging skill set, which he is able to adapt to different games and situations. He is a fabulous player to watch and if you keep a close eye on him during matches as I often do, then you will realise what an intelligent player he is. He is a hardworking and brave player who is very much a team player and that is why he suits the role of captain of the under 18’s so well. At only 18 years of age he possesses a real footballing brain and it is that understanding of the game which enables him to dictate the tempo of matches and help to create openings for the forwards. Shashoua’s razor sharp movement and very Spanish way of playing the game makes him a very dangerous player to come up against. I will often pay close attention to Armando’s off the ball movement during matches and it is some of the best that I have ever seen at youth level. His constant aggressive pressing and hunger to want to get to the ball before the opposing player is inspiring. Whilst he has that grit and determination much like Oliver Skipp does, Armando can switch his game in an instance. As I have said before he is a very David Silva like player who changes shape and position throughout the game. His runs in and behind defenders help to alleviate the pressure off the centre forward and it also allows other players to get into more space inside the danger zone. Shashoua is essentially a silky and smooth player whose short and sharp passing, ability to dribble with the ball at speed and Winks-esque work rate make him one of the finest central midfielders in the under 18 southern division. As he has demonstrated this season he is now chipping in with goals and assists and that is something which has made him a mainstay in Matt Wells side. Whilst he is a very good dribbler he isn’t a show boater and he doesn’t take unnecessary risks with the ball. Our under 18’s have one of the most talented sides in the last 20 years this season, and as we get our FA youth cup adventure underway against Millwall next month I am feeling extremely confident that we can go all the way, and win the prestigious competition for the first time in 28 years.

If that is to happen then it will be as much down to our quietly influential captain fantastic than anybody else on the pitch. Armando is a great motivator on the pitch and whilst he is commanding and assured, he isn’t one of those captains who is going to start screaming at his players in order to try and galvanise the team or to get their attention. I could really see Armando emulating the spirit of 1974 when we won the FA youth cup with one of our finest ever youth teams. The captain that season was a young man by the name of Wayne Cegielski. This season I can vividly picture young Armando following in Cegielski’s footsteps by leading his team to glory for only the fourth time in the clubs history. Shashoua is a wonderfully gifted and silky, creative and combative central midfielder who has such a bright future ahead of him. And as a Spurs fan I would like nothing more than to see him lift that prestigious cup in front of all of our fans at the new stadium. In the meantime Armando and Spurs’ next game is a massively important top of of the table clash against Arsenal on Saturday morning, at Hotspur Way. I wish Armando all the very best of luck for that game and for all the remaining matches that he is involved in this season.

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