My end of season player reviews of Spurs’ under 18 side (2019/20):
We are in extraordinary times and the decision to curtail the 2019/20 Academy Games Programme (to end our under 18’s and 23’s league seasons) really came as no great surprise. In the vocal head coach Matt Taylor’s first season in charge of our under 18’s we have enjoyed a good and solid campaign, putting in some very good performances, as well as improving as the season went on. In the Premier League South we ended up finishing in fifth place after accumulating 26 points from 17 games. Meanwhile, in the under 18 Premier League Cup we exited at the group stages in a group which contained West Ham United, Newcastle United and Stoke City. And in the prestigious FA Youth Cup we were knocked out in the fourth round of the competition by Wigan Athletic, after so impressively defeating the holders Liverpool in round three. A Spurs under 19 side which contained a number of players from our under 18’s also took part in the UEFA Youth League, where they were knocked out in the group stages (Spurs’ group contained German giants Bayern Munich). As has been so common in seasons gone by, a Spurs under 19 side would have also most likely competed in a prestigious end of season tournament somewhere in Europe, but hence they would have been unable to do so this season. It is also worth mentioning that Academy chief and highly respected coach John McDermott left Spurs during the 2019/20 campaign to take up a role with the FA. He will be greatly missed by Spurs after all his years of great service at the Lilywhites.
In the following piece I will be doing a detailed review of each players season, including comments and stats (from my view of watching the entirety of the 2019/20 season up and down the country). For players who also played up for the under 23’s I will only be including them in this piece if they played more times for the under 18’s than the under 23’s (I will also be doing a piece on our under 23 side). On a final note I’d just like to say that this seasons under 18’s have been an absolute pleasure to watch play with their wonderful style of attacking football. Every single player should be proud of all that they have achieved since the season started back in August 2019.
Kacper Kurylowicz: Luton born goalkeeper Kacper Kurylowicz (18) made 11 competitive appearances for our under 18’s during the 2019/20 season. The second year scholar who only made three competitive appearances for our under 18’s the previous season, was a lot more involved in the season just gone. Kurylowicz kept four clean sheets from his 11 appearances and he made some top saves along the way (a number of his saves from our 2-0 win over Southampton back in August 2019 really stood out). I am a big fan of the young shot stopper and throughout the season his excellent vocalness and communication in matches has been a big plus to the team. The 18 year old who is also eligible to represent Poland at international level, is really good at talking his defenders through games. In the season just gone Kurylowicz also showed opposing teams strikers that he wasn’t to be messed with. Apart from his many fine saves and the way in which he dealt with crosses and set pieces, Kurylowicz’s distribution (often direct) and calmness with the ball at his feet also impressed me greatly, as well as his ability to deal with one on ones. Apart from his 11 appearances for our under 18’s Kurylowicz also made the bench on two occasions for both our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League, and for our under 23’s in the PL2. Next season Kurylowicz will move up to the under 23’s although he will still be able to turn out for our under 18’s as an overage goalkeeper.
Thimothee Lo-Tutala: First year scholar Thimothee Lo-Tutala made his competitive debut for our under 18’s back in September 2019 when he came off the bench to feature against West Ham United in the Under 18 Premier League Cup. The Paris born goalkeeper would go onto make nine appearances in all competitions last season (Lo-Tutala also made the bench on two occasions for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League). The 17 year old like Kurylowicz has good distribution and he is a commanding goalkeeper who commands his box well. Lo-Tutala put in impressive performances against the likes of Chelsea and Leicester City last season, and I am looking forward to seeing him again for our under 18’s next season when he will likely be Matt Taylor’s sides first choice goalkeeper, as he will be the most experienced goalkeeper at that level.
Isak Solberg: Norwegian goalkeeper Isak Solberg (formerly of Byrne FK) made his competitive senior debut in football at the age of just 14. However, during his first season at Spurs, the very tall Solberg didn’t make any competitive appearances for our under 18’s. Although he did make the bench once, in our FA Youth Cup fourth round tie against Wigan Athletic in January. He also would have likely featured for our under 16 side throughout last season. Hopefully we will be seeing more of the 16 year old next season.
Dermi Lusala: Edmonton born and formerly of West London club Brentford, skilful fullback Dermi Lusala has represented England’s under 16 side in the past. Lusala who primarily operates at right back, but who is also able to play at left back and RCB as he demonstrated well during the season just gone. During his first year of scholarship at Spurs Lusala was one of the standout players for Spurs’ under 18 side. The 17 year old who made his competitive debut for our under 18’s the previous season in a league game against Chelsea, was dominant at right back for Matt Taylor’s side during the 2019/20 season. Lusala made an impressive 19 appearances (chipping in with three assists) for our under 18’s plus an additional four for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League where he played well despite being one of the youngest members of the side. Putting in sterling attacking and defensive performances against the likes of Southampton, Fulham, Leicester City and Liverpool, Lusala impressed me with his good balance, silky skills, speed, anticipation and his committed defending. The attacking fullback loves to get up and down the pitch and he is more than capable of beating players and going on long surging runs. Lusala was an extremely reliable player during the 2019/20 campaign and had the season have been completed he would have more than likely stepped up to make his competitive debut for Wayne Burnett’s under 23 side before the season would have been ended. Earlier on in the season Dermi was featured in The Guardian’s Next Generation series 2019: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs.
Jeremy Kyezu: Left back Jeremy Kyezu of Southgate in North London, made two competitive appearances for our under 18’s during the 2019/20 season. Kyezu came of the bench in our under 18’s Under 18 Premier League Cup game against Newcastle United back in 2019 to make his debut, before then completing his first full competitive game for the under 18’s against Norwich City where he put in a solid performance at left back in a 1-1 draw. The first year scholar (16) also featured for a Spurs XI in a pre-season friendly against Enfield Town back in August 2019. It is worth noting that Jeremy Kyezu is the youngest of all of last seasons first year scholars.
Kallum Cesay: Versatile first year scholar Kallum Cesay (formerly of West Ham United) was a mainstay of Matt Taylor’s side last season, making 15 competitive appearances for our under 18’s scoring two goals and registering one assist. During those 15 games, Cesay who is from Newham in East London, operated both as a RB and as a CDM where he did a good job at breaking up play in the middle of the park. A tenacious player who has many good attributes, Cesay looked good at right back, the position for which he made his own during the first half of the season. Another player who featured in that pre-season friendly against Enfield Town back in the previous August, Cesay looked good in that game against very physical players. To summarise, Cesay was a very consistent performer who hardly put a foot wrong during his time playing for our under 18’s last season. What I also liked about Kallum’s performances were some of his attacking attributes. A tall and steady player, Cesay would often run forward with the ball after receiving it on the right flank. Keeping good positioning, the 17 year old would also get into some good attacking positions. I would imagine that Cesay will become a very important player for our under 18’s next season after enjoying a good debut season for the young Lilywhites.
Marqes Muir: Without a shadow of a doubt one of our under 18’s most important players during the 2019/20 campaign. First year scholar Marqes Muir was a player who constantly improved by each passing game that he played for our under 18’s. The Lambeth born centre half, who also filled in at right back on a couple of occasions, made 19 appearances for Matt Taylor’s side plus one for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League (Muir also made the bench on one occasion for our under 23’s and he registered one assist). A player who possesses tremendous strength, Muir made countless important defensive interventions throughout the season, and he was also good in the air. Furthermore, the defender demonstrated his ability to bring the ball out from the back in such a calm, composed and effective way. In addition Muir’s strength allowed him to deal with physical centre forwards and he was very good at making blocks and being in the right position at the right time, in the season just gone. This has been a very good season in my opinion for the young Marqes Muir and he has adapted really well to under 18 football in his debut season, even captaining our under 18’s on two occasions (Muir has shown some good leadership for Matt Taylor’s side). His best performances came against Norwich City, Fulham and Swansea City.
Aaron Skinner: Salford born and previously of Bury and Bolton, Aaron Skinner joined Spurs in the autumn of 2019, first as a triallist in an Under 18 Premier League Cup game against Stoke City and then at a later date as a second year scholar after signing terms. During the start of Skinner’s time at Spurs he operated primarily as a central defender however, as time went by the 17 year old was used in central midfield as a CDM. While playing in that position he looked even more comfortable and accomplished, and after putting in a number of good performances in that position, two during the second half of the season really stood out. Those performances came in wins against both Brighton & Hove Albion and Swansea City respectively. In both of those games Skinner covered a ridiculous amount of ground, he kept good positioning and he made some really good crunching challenges (I believe that he was primarily played as a CDM during his time at Bury). His anticipation and reading of both of those games was second to none, and to top of it off he also was very tidy in his play. After playing in those games Skinner reverted back to centre half and had improved even further in his all round play. Skinner is a player who I am a big fan of despite him only making 12 appearances for our under 18’s last season (Skinner chipped in with an assist and he also featured once on the bench for our under 23’s in a PL2 game against Brighton). What I like about Skinner’s style of play is that like George Marsh before him he is very committed, hard working and effective at mopping up in the central areas of the pitch. I hope that Skinner is still at Spurs next season and playing for our development side.
Dennis Cirkin: A player who really needs little introducing, talented left back Dennis Cirkin (18) has become well known amongst Spurs fans after making the bench for the first team on two occasions this season. In addition the Dublin born defender and England youth international had also been praised by Spurs manager Jose Mourinho shortly after he arrived at the club. Cirkin made 12 appearances for our under 18’s, two for our under 23’s and five for our under 19’s during the season just gone (Cirkin scored two goals and registered three assists). The attacking and physical left backs season however, was disrupted by injury at the beginning of the campaign after he picked up an injury shortly after our under 18’s season opener against Fulham, and then again in February. Despite this happening it was still a season of great progress for young Dennis who had made strides in his development as well as pushing ever closer to the first team set up. As well as being a very solid, aggressive and tenacious defender who has a tendency to make strong challenges, Cirkin is also an adventurous fullback who loves to get forward and go on long slaloming runs (something which he is very good at). During the season just past Cirkin also showed his versatility by playing as a CDM on one occasion and as a centre half on two occasions (he did a good job in both of those positions). Some of the second year scholars best performances last season came against Reading’s under 18’s, Crvena zvevda’s under 19’s and Leicester City’s under 18’s. If the Premier League 2019/20 season ever does resume, and providing that Dennis has recovered from his recent injury, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him make his debut for our first team before the season ended. If the season doesn’t resume then I would imagine that the teenager who is eligible to represent England, Latvia and Ireland would be included on the next pre-season tour with the first team. Cirkin is a player who has great potential.
Yago Santiago: Spanish midfielder Yago Santiago joined Spurs from Celta Vigo shortly after the beginning of the 2019/20 season. The Vigo born player (17) is a first year scholar who made 12 appearances (only four starts) and chipped in with a goal and assist. Santiago is mainly a creative midfielder and he won good plaudits playing for Celta Vigo’s cadet side last season, contributing a number of goals and assists. The midfielder who can either play as a CM, CDM or as a CAM is a player who possesses good vision, and despite his slim frame he is a hard worker who gets stuck in. By far Santiago’s best performance came in our under 18’s last game against Southampton, where he managed to score his first goal for the club and put in a good all round performance. I look forward to seeing more of Santiago in action next season.
Max Robson: My under 18’s player of the season, see below.
Romaine Mundle: A reliable right winger who rarely gives the ball away and has a high work rate and good positioning, Edmonton born Romaine Mundle is also adapt at playing in central midfield. Mundle made 15 appearances for Matt Taylor’s under 18 side during the 2019/20 season chipping in with one goal and three assists. After coming off the bench to make his competitive debut for our under 18’s in our 4-0 home win over Norwich City back in August of 2019, after that game Mundle would go onto play a prominent role in the side. Putting in good performances against the likes of Chelsea, Reading and Stoke City. The first year scholar (17) is good at whipping crosses into the danger zone and at taking corner kicks. Mundle is also a quick player who possesses good agility and skill, as he showed on several occasions last season.
Nile John: Central midfielder/CAM and winger Nile John is an England youth international who has played regularly with an extremely talented group of young players, of which includes Karamoko Dembele and Jude Bellingham. The skilful West London born John who was formerly on Brentford’s books, unfortunately experienced an injury hit debut campaign as a first year scholar for Spurs during 2019/20. As a result of this John only made nine competitive appearances for our under 18’s plus an additional one for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League (John contributed two goals and one assist). The 17 year old is an extremely silky and skilful player who has that ability to drift effortlessly past players and create chances for his teammates. Nile put in two excellent performances for our under 18’s, one coming against Swansea City where he put in an industrious display in central midfield as well as scoring a fabulous goal after side stepping his way past a Swansea defender before finding the back of the net. The other came against Southampton (again from central midfield) as John put in a very dominant midfield performance as well as chipping in with a goal and an assist. I would imagine that in his second year of scholarship that John will become a key player for the under 18’s as well as possibly making a couple of appearances for our development side.
Michael Craig: A very tidy and efficient central midfielder who has been capped by Scotland at under 16 level, Barnet born Michael Craig (first year scholar) was unfortunately another young player who had an injury disrupted season. Craig who was formerly on the books of Arsenal and Watford, started all four of under 18’s first four league matches (he registered one assist) after impressing for a Spurs XI in a pre-season friendly against Enfield Town. Craig also played well in all four of his league appearances before he picked up a season ending injury shortly after our under 18’s league game against Swansea City in August of 2019.
Matthew Craig: Michael’s identical twin brother Matthew also had injury troubles during the 2019/20 season however, he still managed to accumulate nine appearances (chipping in with two assists and also making the bench for our under 19’s in a UEFA Youth League game against Olympiakos). Craig is predominately a central midfielder although he did appear as a central defender on a couple of occasions last season, and I was impressed with him in those games. As a midfielder Craig is a little bit like Harry Winks in the sense that he keeps things ticking over nicely in the middle of the park. He also often makes good and positive forward passes. Arguably the Scotland youth internationals finest performance of the season came against Southampton in our under 18’s last league game, when he created two goals. It will be interesting to see both of the Craig twins operating together in the central of the park again, next season.
Eddie Carrington: Speedy and skilful Hackney born winger Eddie Carrington chipped in with two assists from his four appearances for our under 18’s last season (all of which came off the bench). The former Brentford youth player looked lively during his appearances during the season just goes. He seems to be a very direct player who likes to beat his man, in addition he also has really quick feet. We should be seeing a lot more of Carrington next season.
Rafferty Pedder: Making 21 appearances (the most of any player in the under 18’s last season. He also made one appearance for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League) Maidstone born midfielder Rafferty Pedder enjoyed a breakthrough season for Matt Taylor’s side after only playing a number of games for the under 18’s the previous season. Pedder was one of our most consistent performers and he had a really good season. Apart from registering two goals and two assists, the second year scholar really improved in his all round game and he seemed to look even more quicker (as a schoolboy Pedder missed over a year of his development with a broken arm). Pedder played as a CAM, central midfielder and as a winger on a couple of occasions. The 18 year old loved to drive forward and go on long jinking runs with the ball after receiving it. He also linked the play well and did a good job at finding useful pockets of space. A player who has an extremely high work rate, Pedder plays with a bite about his game, similar to that of the slightly older Elliot Thorpe. Furthermore, he also tracks back well and covers a lot of blades of grass during matches. A really enjoyable player to watch, Pedder ran the show from the CAM role in matches against the likes of Norwich City and Leicester City, with his pace, skill and agility. In addition his vision and weight of pass in such games was also very good. Rafferty was arguably was one of our under 18’s most influential performers and he should be very proud of himself for all that he has achieved throughout the season. The next challenge for Pedder will be breaking into Wayne Burnett’s under 23 side next season. (You can read more about Pedder in my article that I wrote about him last November).
Chay Cooper: After only featuring for our under 18’s on a handful of occasions last season, highly skilful winger Chay Cooper was yet another player who enjoyed a breakthrough season for Matt Taylor’s side. Cooper who is from Harlow in Essex, and formerly of Southend United was without doubt one of our very best players. The second year scholar was directly involved in an impressive 11 goals from 14 appearances for our under 18’s (five goals and six assists) from a variety of positions and he excelled as a left and right winger and as a central midfielder. Not afraid to try outrageous pieces of skill, the 18 year old is a direct player who has good pace and balance. I’m addition, when playing as a winger he would always track back well and help out the fullbacks and get involved defensively. Cooper who is a scorer of fine goals and a creator of fine assists, went on a really good run of games from August onwards, and he became one of Matt Taylor’s most important and reliable players. However, a seven week injury lay off disrupted his fine form and we greatly missed him for our FA Youth Cup fourth round tie against Wigan Athletic in January. However, on his return from injury in what turned out to be our under 18’s final game of the season, he returned in style by coming off of the bench to score one goal and lay off another. This was a very positive season for Cooper and he had many fine moments, now for the former ‘ Shrimpers ’ player he will move up to Wayne Burnett’s development side. (You can read more about Chay in my article that I wrote about him earlier in the year).
J’Neil Bennett: In his third season of under 18 football winger J’Neil Bennett was directly involved in 12 goals (seven goals and five assists) from 14 appearances. A key performer for our under 18’s last season, Bennett who was formerly on QPR’s books was also an important player for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League (he made four appearances for them and chipped in with a goal and an assist) as well as playing once for our development side. Bennett missed most of pre-season through injury and he only returned in October to our under 18 side, but he made an instant impact on the team. The two footed winger whose footballing idol is Cristiano Ronaldo stood out with his dazzling skills and unpredictable style of play. So often taking players on before skilfully cutting inside and testing the goalkeeper from long range (this is where a lot of Bennett’s goals came from) the Camden born speedy winger and England youth international put in superb performances against the likes of Arsenal, Gillingham, Swansea City and Southampton and he was so often the spark that our under 18’s needed to overcome opposing teams. The second year scholar will hopefully become an important player for our under 23’s next season and who knows he may even be a contender to go on the next pre-season tour (whenever that happens!) with the first team.
Tarrelle Whittaker: After playing quite a few games for our under 18’s while still a schoolboy during the 2018/19 season, forward Tarrelle Whittaker who can operate on either flank or as a CAM and centre forward, was an important player for Matt Taylor’s side last season, chipping in with seven goals and three assists from 18 appearances. The Newham born forward also made two appearances for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League. Whittaker is a quick forward whose off the ball movement makes him a thorn in the side of opposition defenders. The first year scholars exposure to competitive under 18 football the previous season would have helped him during the season just gone. The scorer of some really well taken goals, Whittaker had some really good games against the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Southampton and Fulham. His movement is one of his best attributes however, he is also a really hardworking centre forward who presses well and works well for the team. As well as also being good in the air despite not being the tallest, he is a clinical player. I look forward to seeing him play again for our under 18’s and under 19’s next season.
Kion Etete: Derby born centre forward Kion Etete (18) is a second year scholar who joined us from non league club Notts County last June, after spending some time at Spurs during the 2018/19 season on trial. A tall and physical player who is excellent at holding the ball up and laying it off to teammates, Etete scored eight goals and laid off four assists for our under 18’s from 14 appearances last season (Etete also made two appearances for our under 19’s, scoring one goal, and he made five appearances for our development side). During pre-season Etete impressed for our development side at the Tournoi Europeen out in France (he scored one goal) before then also impressing for our under 19’s at the Oberndorf tournament in Germany. Etete spent most of last season playing with our under 18’s and while playing with them he was able to bully opposing teams defenders with his strength and aerial prowess. He also looked good during the times that he played for our under 19’s in Europe. Etete is a skilful player who is adaptable to different kinds of matches and he showed that throughout the season. Next season Etete will likely be competing with Enock Asante and Rodel Richards for a starting berth in our development side.
Enock Asante: For the second season running striker Enock Asante had an injury disrupted campaign for our under 18’s. Asante who was born in Akuapim-Mampong in Ghana, made nine appearances for our under 18’s and one for our development side (he scored three goals and laid off two assists). After featuring for our development side in a pre-season friendly against Dulwich Hamlet, Asante played in the first six under 18 league games of the season before he frustratingly picked up an injury. Asante returned in December as a substitute in an FA Youth Cup game against Liverpool before then playing in a league game against Leicester City however, he went off injured again. The second year scholar didn’t play for Spurs again before the season came to a premature end. Asante looked good and he scored some well taken poachers goals during his time on the pitch last season, and he worked hard for the team.
My goal of the season: Chay Cooper’s glorious effort against Norwich City in our 4-0 win over the ‘ Canaries ’ back in August of 2019. After playing a quick one two with Eddie Carrington down the right flank, Cooper picked up the ball on the edge of the Norwich penalty area and shifted it onto his left foot before curling the ball stunningly into the top left hand corner of the goal.
My save of the season: Second year scholar Kacper Kurylowicz’s superb save to push Southampton’s Sam Bellis’ powerfully struck effort from inside the Spurs box onto his left hand post, after the Southampton player had latched onto the ball some seven yards out from goal (this was during our 2-0 league win over the ‘ Saints ’ back in August 2019).
My game of the season: Our under 18’s wonderful 4-2 win over FA Youth Cup holders Liverpool in the third round of the prestigious competition back in December 2019. Goals from Troy Parrott who netted a brace, Max Robson and a fine goal from Chay Cooper secured what was arguably our best win of the season, and they did it by playing some really nice attacking football.
My under 18’s player of the season 2019/20: Creative attacking midfielder Max Robson had a superb debut first season with our under 18’s as a first year scholar. The Haywards Heath born midfielder made 20 competitive appearances for our under 18’s scoring five goals and registering six assists, he also made three appearances for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League, scoring one goal. Robson oozed class both as a CM and as a CAM throughout the season just gone. The 17 year old was classy both on and off the ball, with his razor sharp movement, the timing of his runs and his exceptional of the ball pressing and chasing down of opponents. The Englishman who has a touch of Jack Grealish about him, is a very skilful player who loves to drive forward with the ball at speed and effortlessly beat players. Robson also has that knack of being in the right place at the right time, just like Jack Roles before him, and he scored some very well taken goals and created some fine ones as well. He is confident, hardworking and classy and that combination of attributes makes him a very, very good prospect. The young Spurs man should be very proud of all that he has achieved throughout the course of the 2019/20 season and its just a shame that the season didn’t run till the end as I think that he thoroughly deserved to get his chance playing for our under 23’s. Furthermore, it wouldn’t have surprised me at all if he had been called up to England under 18’s (some of Robson’s finest performances last season came against the likes of Liverpool, Leicester City and Crvena zvevda.
Spurs under 18’s statistics 2019/20:
Kion Etete – 8
Tarrelle Whittaker – 7
J’Neil Bennett – 7
Max Robson – 5
Chay Cooper – 5
Enock Asante – 3
Harvey White – 3
Kallum Cesay – 2
Rafferty Pedder – 2
Troy Parrott – 2
Dennis Cirkin – 2
Nile John – 2
Dane Scarlett – 1
Romaine Mundle – 1
Yago Santiago – 1
Max Robson – 6
Chay Cooper – 6
J’Neil Bennett – 5
Kion Etete – 4
Tarrelle Whittaker – 3
Dermi Lusala – 3
Romaine Mundle – 3
Troy Parrott – 2
Rafferty Pedder – 2
Dennis Cirkin – 2
Harvey White – 2
Enock Asante – 2
Eddie Carrington – 2
Matthew Craig – 2
Luis Binks – 1
Michael Craig – 1
Kallum Cesay – 1
Marqes Muir – 1
Yago Santiago – 1
Jordan Hackett – 1
Aaron Skinner – 1
Nile John – 1
Kacper Kurylowicz – 4
Josh Oluwayemi – 1