My interview with former Spurs player Josh Cooper:
Talented midfielder Josh Cooper joined Spurs as a youth player back in 1996, he would go on to spend a number of years at the Lilywhites, working his way up the ranks before leaving the club after not being offered a YTS in the mid 2000’s. Cooper would later go onto have a good career in non league football, playing for the likes of Wealdstone United, Wingate and Finchley and Chesham United. I recently caught up with Josh to look back on his time at Spurs.
What are your earliest footballing memories?
Josh: I can remember going to watch Spurs play against Aston Villa when I was about four or five and that was in 1993.
What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?
Josh: I got scouted from Enfield Town when I was eight years old which was in 1996 and I can remember going to training (I can’t remember any of the games) which was in the ball court at the old White Hart Lane stadium.
What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?
Josh: It was good and it kept me grounded at school and stuff, so yeah it did me good.
Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?
Josh: David Ginola. He was a class football player.
Could you describe to me what type of player you were at Spurs and what positions you played in during your time there?
Josh: I used to play in midfield and I was more of a creative player however, I wasn’t a dribbler I was more of a one, two touch pass and move type of player. I would try and create opportunities for others to score.
How difficult was it for a young Spurs player like yourself to break into the first team back in the 2000’s?
Josh: One thing I look back on now, I’ve got a baby boy as well now so I think differently. You’ve got to stand out from the rest, so I.E: be more aggressive in the way you play and be heard, because if you are heard I think that you have got more of a chance. I was quite quiet and I didn’t like to show off as such but if your good at it then you should show it. As I got older around the age of 13 or 14 I sort of played in my self, but when I was younger I used to go past people like they weren’t there, but as I got older I used to play a bit differently. So I wished that I had played without fear.
Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?
Josh: My dad was always good with me and he actually played at Tottenham as well when he was a kid and he got a bit further than me to be fair.
Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?
Josh: Not my age at the time because I used to worry about myself more than anything.
What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?
Josh: So I got released when I was 16 going on 17, so when they did the youth team scholarships was when I got released. After that I went on trial with Port Vale for a few weeks, along with Wycombe and Northampton. They all said the same thing to me and that was that I was technically great and a fantastic player, but not what they were looking for in height and size. I then went into non league, and I signed for Wealdstone in the Ryman Premier League at the time, I then went to Chesham, then I was at Wingate and Finchley and Cheshunt, so I did the non league circle really. I am actually going training tomorrow after three years out from playing, and I’m going to sign for Cockfosters in the Essex Senior League.
What has been the greatest moment of your footballing career?
Josh: To be fair it has to be when I was at Wingate and we won the treble one season. We got promoted and won two cups, so that was a good season, and I played over 50 odd games that season (I think that it was 58).
Who has been the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with?
Josh: A year above me at Spurs was a player called Charlie Lee and he went onto play for Spurs’ first team before going to Stevenage. When we (the youth team) used to go abroad to Belgium and play on tours, they would always allow one extra older player to come with us so Charlie Lee played with us then. I liked him and I thought that he was a good player.
Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories of your time in the Tottenham youth team?
Josh: The tour of Belgium was one and then when I was out there the teams who we were playing played a completely different style of football. You were playing against players who had a better touch and pass than you, and they’d get in your face and boot you. We went to Belgium when I was under 15’s and I was told that I was one of our best players out there, which I did know myself so that was a good memory. However, generally being at Spurs was an honour to have been there for a long time, but looking back on it now I didn’t use that to my benefit enough and I should have been more confident in what I was doing and why I was there for a reason.
Who was the toughest player that you have ever come up against?
Josh: There were a few who I played against in non league who were workhorses but I couldn’t tell you specific names as I can’t remember there names.
Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?
Josh: John Kyriacou and Luke Prosser who is now at Colchester United. It used to be me, Luke and John Kyriacou and our parents used to take it in turns each week to training. When me and Luke Prosser got released at the same time (John Kyriacou signed for the youth team at Spurs) we went to Port Vale on trial together and then Luke got signed for Port Vale but then he’s about six foot six.
What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?
Josh: My advice would be that it’s an honour to be at the club in the first place so you should remember that, and not everyone gets to play for Spurs so you should take advantage and play with no fear. I used to play within myself as I got older.
After all these years how do you look back on your time at the Lilywhites and is Spurs a club who you still hold close to your heart?
Josh: Yes, I support them and I’ve got a season ticket there now and go and watch them every week. When I was younger I used to hear the fans sing the songs about the players and think that it could have been me, but obviously it never was.