Spurs’ Dennis Cirkin – A most promising young left back who has enjoyed a fantastic season in his first year of scholarship at the club:
One of our under 18’s most consistent performers this season has been first year scholar Dennis Cirkin (17). The Dublin born left back has put in many an excellent shift for Spurs across the various age levels this campaign, impressing with his physicality, lung bursting forward runs and mesmeric skill, as well as his decision making and defending. Cirkin epitomises the modern fullback in so many ways despite his young age, and it is the well roundedness and all round game of the England under 17 international which has always impressed me the most. Operating primarily as a left back during his first year of scholarship, after scoring an impressing seven goals for our under 16’s the previous season, Cirkin has adapted really well to under 18 football since he made his competitive debut for Spurs at this level in a league game against Swansea City back in August. So well in fact that the former Wanstead High School pupil has stepped up to play for our under 23’s on six occasions and a further four times for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League. This is on top of the 19 appearances that he has made for our high flying under 18 side. A hugely exciting prospect who has made huge strides during the 2018/19 season on both the domestic and international stage, Cirkin for those of you who haven’t watched him play extensively, is a good all round fullback. What I mean by that is that he is so well rounded. An aggressive and attentive defender who likes to be the first to every ball, the Dubliner is a strong and committed player who has a tendency to slide in and make crunching challenges. Authoritative without making rash decisions, the teenager is an intelligent player who reads the game just as well as he uses the ball. Apart from his defensive solidity Cirkin is a formidable attacker, and with his pace, dribbling ability, low centre of gravity and his all round positive play he has the ability to penetrate defences. An adventurous fullback not too dissimilar to how Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon was at the same age. Young Dennis isn’t the kind of fullback who plays with his head down and looks to make safe, cautious passes. Instead Cirkin is a young man who is always playing with his head up, constantly looking forward and looking to drive at oppositions defences. Unsurprisingly our very own Ben Davies is a player who Dennis admires greatly.
Having been at Spurs since the age of nine Dennis has managed to work his way up the ranks at the North London club, and for England at international level. The Dublin born fullback has made huge strides in his development this season and as you will all know from my many match reports Cirkin is a player who I am a very big fan of hence, why I am writing this detailed piece on the best left back of his age group in the country. Born in Dublin, Ireland to Latvian parents on the 6th of April 2002, Dennis moved across the water to London with his family when he was just three years old and it was in the English capital where he first developed his love of football. A pupil of Wanstead High School, Dennis was a regular for the England under 16 national side during the 2017/18 season but Cirkin had to wait until August of this season to make his competitive debut for our under 18’s after he signed scholarship terms with the ‘ Lilywhites ‘ that summer. That came in a 5-2 win over Swansea City at the ‘ Swans ‘ Landore training centre in a league game at the start of this season, and it was a fantastic debut for the then 16 year old who managed to score a brace on his first start for Matt Wells’ side. Since making his first competitive appearance for our under 18’s the first year scholar has gone onto achieve great things during the 2018/19 campaign. Not only has he cemented his place in the under 18 side, he has also made four appearances for our under 19’s in the UEFA youth league. Furthermore, the England under 17 international who was called up to represent the ‘ Three Lions ‘ in a friendly tournament back in September has gone onto make the step up to our development side. After making his debut for Wayne Burnett’s side in a hectic Premier League International Cup game against Athletic Bilbao’s B team in January, Cirkin has gone onto make a further five appearances for the under 23’s and he has really looked the part in all of those games. He has been able to deal with the physicality of under 23 football, and the pace of it. Cirkin has been excellent for Spurs on a consistent basis this season. Since establishing himself in the under 18’s he has been nothing but solid and potent going forwards. He has demonstrated to great effect his ability to get up and down the left flank so well for 90 minutes of the game. From the 29 competitive games that he has played for Spurs this season I have not once seen him have a bad game, and that speaks volumes.
Cirkin is a young player who is constantly improving at left back, the former left winger was a mainstay in our title challenging under 18 side this season, and the quality of his performances have been just as good as anybody else’s. Putting in a string of superb performances against the likes of Leicester City, Fulham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Barcelona across the various age levels this campaign. Only a couple of weeks ago the first year scholar was selected by Spurs to compete in The Future Cup which was hosted by AJAX in Amsterdam, Cirkin played all four of Spurs’ matches in that tournament. Cirkin has demonstrated his well roundedness and his adaptability to games during the course of the season. The 17 year old has made a big impact at both ends of the pitch from his rock solid defending and assertiveness, to his many surging attacking forays, and wonderful close ball control. The Dubliner is a good all round fullback who possesses so many good qualities as an up and coming modern left back/wingback. The 17 year old possesses both defensive steel and attacking flair, this makes him an interesting young fullback and that is what makes Cirkin such a promising player. Interestingly the Dublin born defender is very similar to former Spurs youngster Nick Tsaroulla a player who I was a big fan of, in his style of play. Like Tsaroulla (20) who left the club upon the expiration of his contract last summer, Cirkin is a very adventurous player. Combining his offensive and defensive play so well, many of the first year scholars greatest attributes are akin to those of our former defender Nick Tsaroulla. Offensively Cirkin is as good as anybody in his age group. The Dubliner is a very skilful player and his fine dribbling ability helps him to go on fruitful attacking forays down the left hand side, as well as helping him to dribble his way out of tricky situations. The young left back also has a good low centre of gravity as well as a good burst of pace about him, again things which make him such a threat going forwards. Cirkin manages to get up and down the flank well and it is his positivity with the ball at his feet which has always impressed me so much. Wherever Cirkin receives the ball out wide he always looks up before driving forward with the ball glued to his foot. Such positive play and directness reminds me of how Kyle Walker-Peters was at the same age, albeit on the opposite flank.
Young Dennis Cirkin is a creative force from left back and his pace, agility and good crossing ability has made him a major attacking threat for Spurs this season. Chipping in with two goals and three assists across all levels for Spurs this campaign, Cirkin’s many lung bursting forward runs have created many, many more goal scoring chances for his teammates. The 17 year old loves to overlap the left winger and he has a natural urge to get forwards and make runs down the left channel. Furthermore, Cirkin loves to be on the ball and he has a tendency to play the ball down the line, something which he has done on many occasions so far this season. On a number of occasions I have seen Cirkin pick the ball up deep inside his own half and skilfully dance his way around three or four opponents as he helps to bring the ball forward. Cirkin is also a goal threat and he is always very quick to loose balls in and around the the danger zone, he has a knack of timing his runs to perfection and he often spots gaps in the oppositions defence which he can exploit. A very intelligent player with an attacking eye, Cirkin is forward thinking and very confident when he has the ball at his feet. On numerous occasions this season for both our under 18’s and 23’s Cirkin’s pace, dribbling ability and all round positive play has caused a whole host of problems for teams. In the UEFA Youth League round of 32 game against PAOK back in February, Cirkin showcased his attacking qualities in front of a crowd of over 10,000 supporters. A constant attacking threat with his many surging runs up and down the left flank, his confidence on the ball and forward passing was something which the Greek club couldn’t deal with, and this led to PAOK putting more than one player on Cirkin which in turn allowed the left winger and the CAM with more space to trouble the PAOK defence. Going back to my comparisons with Nick Tsaroulla, there is something about the way in which Cirkin runs with the ball and dribbles which is so similar to how Tsaroulla used to play. I don’t know whether the first year scholar has been influenced by Tsaroulla in some way but everything from his short bursts of pace to the way in which he defends is strikingly similar to the Bristol born former Spurs man.
Offensively Dennis Cirkin is a very, very good player who has the essential skills to be like Danny Rose or Ben Davies from an attacking perspective however, that is only one side of the teenagers game. Defensively speaking he is also highly effective and it is that which I am going to speak about next. Strong, committed in the challenge and extremely courageous. Cirkin is an excellent defender who has made many important defensive interventions over the course of this season for our under 18’s and 23’s. The left back who is fluent in Russian, has great stamina which allows him to get up and down the left flank so well for 90 minutes of a game. Furthermore, he is a very aggressive player who makes sure that he is always the first to get to every ball. However, it is the 17 year olds challenges which are perhaps his greatest attribute. Again, linking back to Tsaroulla, Cirkin is committed in the challenge and he loves to slide in, but he also makes sure that he times them to perfection, so as to get as much of the ball as possible. He also oozes confidence and he reads the game very well indeed for a defender so young and he isn’t afraid to make big calls such as risky sliding challenges inside his own penalty area. The Dublin born defender reads the game tremendously well and I love how good he is at not only anticipating danger but also at snuffing it out. Neville-esque with his one on one defending, Cirkin defends well while he is under pressure and it is his composure and decision making which makes him so difficult to get the better of for pace. As I have already said, Cirkin is a remarkably well rounded player who doesn’t lack quality in any department. He is strong, decisive, good in the air, skilful but above all else he is committed. Dennis is able to combine both his defensive discipline with an adventurous attacking streak and it is that combination for which makes him such a good young left back. For our under 18’s this season, Dennis has been one of our most consistent and important players. The quality of the performances that he has put in for our under 18’s over the course of the 19 games which he has played for them has been top drawer. Cirkin also put in four solid performances for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League, this came about because our only other natural left back Jaden Brown had left the club in January.
If that wasn’t impressive enough Cirkin has also racked up six appearances for our under 23’s since the turn of the year. All six of those performances have been excellent and the first year scholar has shown that he not only has the physicality to deal with the step up, but he has also shown the maturity needed for that level. Already our under 23’s first choice left back at the age of just 17, Cirkin’s continued rise over the course of the 2018/19 season has been seriously impressive and the season isn’t over yet. With the 2019 Terborg tournament still to look forward to, Dennis will be hoping to finish what has been an excellent season on a positive note. A tremendously well rounded left back who has all the attributes needed to emulate a player like Ben Davies’s path to the first team. For those wondering why England’s best left back of the under 17 age group wasn’t included in Steve Cooper’s squad for the forthcoming European Championships in Ireland, this boils down to the fact that Cirkin would be tied down to England for the rest of his footballing career if he was capped by them in a competitive fixture. Still eligible to represent Ireland and Latvia at international level, Cirkin still has the option to change allegiance in the future. I would like to congratulate Dennis on having such a fantastic season at Spurs. He has been a pleasure to watch and I look forward to seeing him progress even further next season.