A season of great strides – Maxwell Statham 2018/19:
An Academy player who has made great strides during the 2018/19 season, 18 year old centre half Maxwell Louis Statham has enjoyed a fine season for Spurs’ under 18 side. Born in Southend but brought up in Chelmsford, Maxwell is the son of former Spurs player Brian Statham, a familiar name for those Spurs fans who remember the late 1980’s well. Despite limited starts during the early stages of the season, the second year year scholar went onto force himself into John McDermott’s under 18 side. His versatility and adaptability plain to see as he filled in at both right back and left back throughout the course of the campaign. Statham is a traditional centre half who is both robust and reactive, he is also very good at last ditch defending. The 18 year old has made great strides this season and I have hence decided to write a piece on yet another of our promising second year scholars. A young man who always keeps good positioning and is effective at man marking, Maxwell reminds me of a young Shane Duffy in the way in which he defends. He is very much a combative centre half not too dissimilar to former Spurs man Christian Maghoma in his style of play, and it is the combative and heroic style of his defending which I will go into in great detail about during the following piece. Featuring 17 times for our under 18’s during the 2018/19 season Statham went onto become an important member of our under 18 side despite the fact that he was so regularly played out of position. The tough tackling and commanding centre half has really shown just how versatile he is this season and under testing conditions he has made sure that he has risen to the occasion. Perhaps not as hyped up as some of our defensive prospects, the following piece is both a piece reflecting on the fine season that Maxwell has enjoyed for Spurs, but it is also a piece which highlights some of the youngsters qualities both as a centre half and as a fullback. In my opinion Statham has come on leaps and bounds over the course of the campaign, and I think that it’s fair to say that he has improved as a defender.
The Southend born defender who has been at Spurs since his early teenage years, is now nearing the end of his second year of scholarship at Londons finest club. The former pupil of Moulsham High School in the town of Chelmsford, Essex has risen through the ranks at Spurs. During his final year as a schoolboy the right sided centre half featured prominently for our under 16’s, and he managed to find the back of the net on four occasions. However, Statham had to wait until September 2017 before he made his debut for our under 18’s, that came in a 2-1 league win over Southampton at their Staplewood Training Centre, when he put in a solid debut performance at RCB. Statham would go onto make a further 12 appearances for Scott Parker’s under 18 side that season although the defender wasn’t a regular in Parker’s side. This season Statham has played an even bigger role in the side and he has improved in his all round game. After putting in an impressive shift at centre half against Enfield Town in a pre-season friendly last July, Statham would go onto perform excellently at the prestigious Tournoi Europeen in France, just a week later. The second year scholar defended diligently in France in the absence of the injured Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, and some of the challenges and interceptions which he made during the tournament were superb. In addition the maturity for which he showed in games against the likes of Stade Rennais and EA Guingamp was seriously impressive, and it was only during that tournament that I began to draw comparisons with former Spurs defender Christian Maghoma. After recovering from an injury which he picked up shortly after the tournament, Statham would go onto make his first competitive appearance of the season in an under 18 league game against Southampton. In that game the teenager would come off the bench late on in the game to make a heroic late sliding challenge as Spurs went onto win the game 5-2. Due to the amount of centre halves we had competing for places in the under 18 side this season, with the likes of Malachi Walcott, Luis Binks, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and Jubril Okedina all vying for places in John McDermott’s side, this meant that Maxwell’s time in his natural position of centre half was severely limited.
The competition for one of two CB spots in the side meant that Statham would have to prove his versatility to break into the team. And prove his versatility he certainly did, throughout the course of the campaign the teenager from Essex has filled in both at right back and at left back in around 90% of the games in which he has been involved in. Putting in valiant performances against the likes of Swansea City, Arsenal, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Norwich City and Leicester City throughout the season mostly in his newfound position, Statham performed consistently well for our under 18’s by putting in some really steady performances at fullback. Although Cristiano Ronaldo is Maxwell’s footballing hero, since making the switch to fullback he has started to pay really close attention to Liverpool fullback Trent Alexander-Arnold who is a player who he really likes to watch. What type of defender is Maxwell? Well as a centre half the 18 year old could be compared to somebody such as Michael Dawson or Shane Duffy. He may not have much pace and he may not be the flashiest on the ball. However, he is an excellent young defender who is strong and robust in the challenge, as well as being dominant in the air. Furthermore, Statham the centre half keeps good positioning and even though he isn’t a ball playing centre half the tall defender is very comfortable on the ball, and he likes to ping the ball out to whichever Spurs winger is playing on the left flank with his trademark Dawson-esque long passes. Like Japhet Tanganga before him, Statham is very much a reactive central defender who really is superb at making heroic blocks and at last ditch defending. Linking back into my comparisons with a player who I love to watch in Ireland international Shane Duffy. Statham reads the game well and he defends with a nice assuredness about him, but like Duffy who is renowned for his old school defending, Maxwell is one of those defenders who will literally put his body on the line for his team.
Hardworking and relentlessly scanning the potential danger in front of him, I have seen the 18 year old make many a heroic block over the years, and that is something which every defender needs to have in their locker. Good at making clearances, and a commanding figure in central defence. Statham is vocal and he likes to talk his way through matches, something that former Spurs youth player Christian Maghoma was also very good at. As a fullback on either flank the young defender manages to get up and down the channels well despite his lack of pace. Statham has grown into his new position and he plays as if he really enjoys the freedom which playing at fullback offers him. The versatile young defender gets up and down the flank well and he is nice and aggressive both in and out of possession. Statham has put in some really solid performances at fullback this season and he has shown just how versatile he can be. However, his best performance of the season in my opinion occurred in a league fixture against Leicester City back in December of 2018. Statham didn’t start the game that day however, an early injury which was picked up by makeshift left back Jeremie Mukendi meant that Statham had to fill in at left back in place of the injured Mukendi. That day Statham was up against tricky Irish winger Shane Flynn, a highly skilful young player who had good pace and flair about him. However, Statham stayed deep throughout the match and he marked Flynn tightly, and it resulted in him keeping the talented Irishman at bay for large periods of the game. Maxwell was forceful and he made some hugely important challenges and interceptions to protect his side of the pitch, and help Spurs to record a clean sheet. I really like and admire Statham’s style of play and his tremendous work rate. He is a courageous young player who has certainly proved his adaptability and versatility this season in testing circumstances. The 18 year old has been consistent throughout the campaign and the quality of his performances as well as the work rate in which he offers to games has been top class.
It is worth noting that back in February Statham was on a short youth loan at Norwich City. He played in one competitive game for the ‘ Canaries ‘ a 4-0 league defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers. This followed an article which was published in the Daily Mirror claiming that Maxwell was attracting the attention of a number of clubs including Norwich City, Brentford and Newcastle United. However, the second year scholar signed a professional contract with Spurs this month putting any such rumours to rest. Statham who is also eligible to represent Zimbabwe through his Harare born father Brian, is also possibly eligible to represent Scotland at international level. It has been a very positive season for Maxwell at Spurs and he has made huge personal strides this campaign. Statham, who still has the end of season Terborg tournament to look forward to should be very proud of himself for all that he has achieved throughout the 2018/19 campaign.