Spurs under 23’s versus Liverpool: (match preview)

After putting in a very good first half performance against Chelsea on Monday evening, before eventually losing by three goals to two, Spurs’ under 23 side can take confidence from that game going into Saturday’s Premier League 2 game against Liverpool (the game starts at 15:00pm) at the Liverpool Academy. Last season in our two Premier League two games against Liverpool, we managed to score eight goals against them (we won both games four-nil). Tomorrow’s hosts have made a decent start to the league season, and as both clubs prepare for their final competitive game of 2020, Liverpool occupy fifth spot in the league, while Spurs sit in tenth place on 14 points, two points behind Liverpool. Spurs have only won once away to Liverpool since the Premier League 2 was formed for the 2016/17 season, but they have been unlucky in a number of those games, all of which were very competitive and close games. Liverpool play good attacking football, which is played at a high intensity, and they have a team of very good players as well. This will be another demanding game of football for Wayne Burnett’s side, but I’m sure that it will be a very entertaining one (it is sadly not being shown on Liverpool TV), and I shall be tweeting score updates on my Twitter account. Finally, I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for their final match of 2020.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Whiteman, Okedina (c), Lyons-Foster, Omole, Lavinier, Marsh, White, Scarlett, Thorpe, Clarke, Etete.

Subs from: Kurylowicz, Skinner, Pochettino, Pedder, Mukendi.

Injured/unavailable: Alfie Devine (suspended).

Doubtful: Malachi Fagan-Walcott, Dilan Markanday.

Previous meeting: Spurs four-nil Liverpool. 

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: Liverpool’s 18 year old forward Layton Stewart, who has already scored 13 goals from just nine appearances for their under 18 side this season (he is the leagues top scorer), but he is yet to find the net for Liverpool’s under 23 side in the Premier League 2.

Spurs under 18’s versus West Bromwich Albion: (match preview)

Matt Taylor’s Spurs under 18 side take on a team (the game starts at 11:30am on Saturday at Hotspur Way) who they haven’t faced for a number of years at this level, in West Brom, a side who they last played back in the 2015/16 season. West Brom had been playing in the Under 18 Premier League North until the start of this season when they joined the southern division, and the club from the English Midlands have so far picked eight points from nine league games this season. Peter Gilbert’s side have only won one of their three league away games this season, something which will come as an encouragement to Spurs who have won three and drawn two of their opening five home league games this season. The last meeting between these sides saw a lot of goals, as Spurs eventually won four-three on the day. Unbeaten in five league games at this level, third place Spurs are only one point away from league leaders Fulham, albeit Spurs have played a game more than the west London club. Matt Taylor’s side recorded a really impressive five-one win over Crystal Palace in their last league game, while West Brom beat Southampton three-one. The inform Dane Scarlett scored another hat-trick in that game against Crystal Palace, but after making his competitive debut for our under 23’s last Monday against Chelsea (Dane scored in that game), I do wonder whether he will travel up to Liverpool with the under 23 squad for their away game against Liverpool, which is also on Saturday. If that is the case then it could mean that under 16’s player Jamie Donley could step up once again to play for our under 18 side (he scored in the last game that he played for them), or possibly versatile forward Tarrelle Whittaker could play as the lone striker.

I can’t really comment on what kind of team West Brom’s under 18 side are e.g. their style of play, etc. This is because I haven’t seen their current group of players play however, every game in this division is a challenging and demanding one. Saturday mornings game will be played behind closed doors unfortunately, but I will be providing live score updates of the game on my Twitter account. As I previously mentioned, 16 year old forward Dane Scarlett made his competitive under 23 debut on Monday against Chelsea, but so did under 18 regular Romaine Mundle (he has been directly involved in five of our under 18’s goals so far this season) as he came on as a substitute late on in the game, which was great to see. I would finally like to wish the Spurs under 18 side all the very best of luck for Saturday’s game, which is the final competitive one that they will play in 2020.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala (c), Cesay, Muir, Paskotši, Hackett, Matthew Craig, John, Whittaker, Mundle, Santiago, Donley.

Subs from: Hayton, Kyezu, Michael Craig, Carrington, Mathurin. 

Injured/unavailable: Alfie Devine (suspended).

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: Spurs four-three West Brom.

My score prediction: Spurs 4-2.

My one to watch: 18 year old forward Jovan Malcolm, who has scored five goals from eight league appearances for West Brom’s under 18 side this season. Malcolm has also made two Premier League 2 appearances for West Brom’s under 23 side this season.

A short piece on Spurs’ under 23’s recent signings Tobi Omole and Marcel Lavinier:

Back in early October Spurs announced that they had signed Tobi Omole and Marcel Lavinier on contracts until the end of the 2020/21 season, after they had played for the club on trial. Omole had previously been on Arsenal’s books for a number of years, while Marcel Lavinier had been with west London club Chelsea. Earlier on in the season Spurs announced the signing of right back Keenan Ferguson, a player who had previously been with Yorkshire based club Sheffield United. However, I’m not able to write on him in this short piece, as Spurs haven’t played Sheffield United in a competitive youth match (under 18 or under 23 level) in recent years, and I have only seen him play once for Spurs since he joined the club in the summer. Due to the current situation I have been restricted to watching only a handful of under 23 matches (all of which were online) and unfortunately I haven’t been to a single Spurs under 18 match this season, which is obviously a real shame as I am somebody who has gone to and reported on virtually ever Spurs under 23 and under 18 game in recent years. However, relying on my memory of watching both Marcel Lavinier and Tobi Omole (I was really pleased when Spurs had announced that they had joined the club) play for their respective former clubs on a number of occasions over the years, predominantly playing against Spurs, in this piece I will be writing a short profile on each player, writing about each players style of play and best attributes, etc. Our under 23’s next game is away to Liverpool, on Saturday afternoon at the Liverpool Academy, with the game starting at 15:00pm.

Tobi Omole: Versatile 20 year old defender (turns 21 on the 17th of December) Tobi Omole from Brockley in south London, went to St Columba’s School in Bexleyheath, and had previously been playing for Thamesmead prior to joining Arsenal at under 14’s level. The young Englishman who is also eligible to represent Nigeria at international level, was actually predominantly playing in a midfield role for Thamesmead before moving to Arsenal, when he eventually settled down into a more defensive role in the heart of defence. However, I have seen Omole play for Arsenal at both under 18 and under 23 level at centre half (he usually plays at LCB), left back and at CDM, and he always looked very adept at playing in all of those three defensive positions, since I first saw him play during the 2016/17 season as a first year scholar. A tall defender who reads the game well, is dominant in the air and who often shows good composure on the ball. Omole is one of those defensive players who regardless of where he plays, goes about his job in a quietly very effective manner. For example when he played for Arsenal and captained their under 18 side as a second year scholar, in an Under 18 Premier League South end of season game back in the 2017/18 game, Omole stood out. This was despite the fact that Spurs beat Arsenal 9-0! This was partially down to the fact that Arsenal had an important FA Youth Cup game soon after that match, and ended up fielding a number of players from their under 16 side. In that particular game, Omole showed his good pace and defensive nous and experience, as he performed well at left back, up against Spurs’ tricky and highly skilful winger Dilan Markanday (Markanday enjoyed more luck after Omole was replaced).

The former Arsenal player shows that he is more than comfortable playing as a number four, with his ability to come out from the back with the ball at his feet and pass it out with precision coming in very useful. Playing more than 35 competitive under 18 games for Arsenal and over 20 competitive games for their under 23 side during his time at the club, the Londoner is a strong defensive player who gets stuck in and is good at making important blocks in games. Omole’s versatility as I previously mentioned, is a very good thing for him to have as a young player and it will no doubt put him in very good stead for his future in the professional game. Always a player who has caught my eye (I am somebody who really likes to watch games very closely) with both his ball skills and reading of the game, plus his desire to get tight to forwards, I couldn’t personally spot any real defensive errors from the couple of games that I have seen him play in a Spurs shirt this season, and they were both against very good sides in the Premier League 2. Of course we conceded three goals in the second half of our last under 23 game against Chelsea on Monday, but I feel that it would be very harsh to say that Tobi was at fault for any of Chelsea’s goals. I thought that he asserted himself well on the game, read it well and made some good and important clearances. The 20 year old has already featured in six games for Wayne Burnett’s Spurs under 23 side in the Premier League 2 this season (three starts and three appearances as a substitute), and I can see him becoming an important player for the side over the course of the season, providing he doesn’t go out on his first ever loan move of his career during the January transfer window. I look forward to seeing more of Tobi this season.

Marcel Lavinier: 20 year old right back and Londoner Marcel Lavinier had been on top Premier League academy side Chelsea’s books, for a number of years before leaving the club at the end of the 2019/20 season. Reportedly trialing for a number of clubs before signing for Spurs in October, like Omole the player who has been capped as high up as under 17 level for England, and who has also represented Portugal at youth level (under 18 level), is a player who I have also been impressed with whenever I have seen him play at academy level over the years. Possessing real pace, Lavinier can operate either at right back or left back, as well as at centre half and on the right side of midfield as a wing back. A quadruple winner with that great Chelsea under 18 team during the 2017/18 season, the fullback can be just as effective in the final third as he is at defending his side of the pitch. His ability to glide past players at speed as well as being comfortable to play on either flank, makes him a really potent player going forward for his team, and he registered a number of assists for Chelsea at under 18 level from playing out wide. Making over 40 competitive appearances for Chelsea’s under 18 side and over 20 competitive appearances for their under 23 side, the former Chelsea Academy school pupil certainly tested our defenders whenever we played for Chelsea at under 18 level in particular. A defender who is good technically, Lavinier has already made eight starts for our under 23 side since joining Spurs in October, and he seems to have settled in well. As a defender he is somebody who is alert defensively and also tenacious and aggressive in his defending too, and in the recent under 23 game against his old club Chelsea his great pace and desire to get forward and time his runs well with left winger Jack Clarke, was really evident.

Although Lavinier is right footed, he is as I previously mentioned more than capable of playing on that left hand side. He was tested a lot in the second half of that Premier League 2 game against Chelsea, and with the quality forwards that they had playing for them last Monday, it is not surprising that a lot was asked of the young Spurs man in that particular game. The same happened in the game against Manchester United earlier in the season, when Marcel had to defend against the talented Shola Shoretire, and this demanded him to be focused and alert at all times. I like Lavinier a lot as a player, and I think that like Omole he could have a good future at Spurs, and I really look forward to seeing both players (when I get the chance) play for our under 23 side during the remainder of the season, and I would also like to wish both Marcel and Tobi all the very best of luck for the rest of this season.

Spurs under 23’s 2-3 Chelsea: (match report)

Our under 23 side started Monday evenings Premier League 2 fixture against Chelsea at Kingsmeadow really well, and they found themselves leading by two goals after just 17 minutes, courtesy of goals from Jubril Okedina and Dane Scarlett, in what was a fantastic first half performance from Spurs. However, Chelsea came back at Spurs strongly in the second half of a very lively match, and unfortunately for Spurs they ended up winning the game three-two, in a match which saw two red cards, shown to Alfie Devine and Danny Drinkwater respectively. Lining up with Brandon Austin in goal, a back four made up of captain Jubril Okedina, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Tobi Omole and Marcel Lavinier started in front of the 21 year old goalkeeper. George Marsh and Harvey White teamed up in the centre of the park while Dane Scarlett (competitive under 23 debut) and Jack Clarke lined up either side of CAM Alfie Devine, while Kion Etete started up front for Spurs. Spurs got the game underway at Kingsmeadow, and the first real chance of the game ended in a goal for Wayne Burnett’s side. 38 year old Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech had been put under pressure by Kion Etete in the Chelsea penalty area, and Cech ended up putting the ball behind for a Tottenham corner kick. Alfie Devine played the corner short to White, whose delivery into the Chelsea box was deflected off of a Chelsea player, and the ball bounced up to Lyons-Foster on the edge of the area and he nodded the ball to Jubril Okedina whose shot went beyond Cech and into the back of the net, 1-0.

Brandon Austin comfortably gathered Dion Rankine’s low cross from the right, before Valentino Livramento blocked Kion Etete’s effort on the edge of the box, at the other end of the pitch. Spurs continued their strong start to the game, and after Alfie Devine won the ball off of Dynel Simeu he went forward down the right flank and delivered in a good low cross towards Jack Clarke, but Danny Drinkwater got back to intercept the ball well. Still yet to be tested by Chelsea, Spurs were enjoying a good spell of possession when the impressive Harvey White picked the ball up about 35 yards out from goal, and he picked out young Dane Scarlett down the right hand side of the Chelsea box with a brilliant curling pass. Scarlett rose ahead of a Chelsea defender and powered a quite brilliant header beyond Petr Cech and into the goal, 2-0. Chelsea weren’t playing with much of an intensity during the opening periods of the game and Spurs continued to go forward. Jack Clarke’s cross in from the left picked out Dane Scarlett, and he got a toe on the ball but it ended up going behind for a goal kick. The Spurs forward then claimed that Chelsea defender Dynel Simeu had handled the ball inside his penalty area a couple of minutes later, but the referee saw nothing in it. After Jubril Okedina passed the ball to Alfie Devine, the former Wigan Athletic player tried to get around Dynel Simeu before trying his luck on goal, but his effort was deflected behind for a corner kick. Tobi Omole’s long ball up to Kion Etete was taken down well and controlled by the centre forward, he took the ball into the Chelsea box but was put under pressure when he tried to beat Cech, who comfortably saved his effort which was straight at the Chelsea goalkeeper.

Wayne Burnett urged his Spurs team to keep their shape as Chelsea upped their intensity during the closing stages of the first half. Spurs defender Tobi Omole headed clear Valentino Livramento’s cross, before Marcel Lavinier was shown a yellow card after giving away a free kick (taken by Marcel Lewis), which Harvey White cleared, in what was the final piece of action of the first half. Chelsea got the second 45 minutes underway, and Jubril Okedina cleared away Thierno Ballo’s low cross before Kion Etete cleared away a corner kick which had been taken by Marcel Lewis. Petr Cech gathered Alfie Devine’s pumped ball into the box before Dynel Simeu headed narrowly over at the back post, from a Chelsea corner kick. Marcel Lewis headed over Valentino Livramento’s cross before giving away a free kick after being deemed to have pushed George Marsh inside the Spurs box, as Chelsea were now on top of the game. After Valentino Livramento had passed the ball to Chelsea forward George Nunn, Nunn took on Okedina inside the Spurs box and got a toe on the ball to put it through the Spurs mans legs, but he (Okedina) lunged in and ended up giving away a penalty. Chelsea’s Myles Peart-Harris took the resulting penalty kick, and he slotted the ball straight down the middle of the goal as Brandon Austin dived to his right, 2-1. A couple of minutes later Henry Lawrence whipped a dangerous cross into the Spurs box, but it was cleared away brilliantly by the lunging Tobi Omole. A long ball to Valentino Livramento down our left flank resulted in Livramento surging past Lavinier before passing to Marcel Lewis inside the middle of the Spurs box, and he calmly slotted it past Austin and into the back of the net, 2-2.

Spurs looked to respond through Harvey White who had a shot blocked by a Chelsea defender. Brandon Austin then passed the ball straight to Chelsea substitute Jude Soonsup-Bell on the edge of the Spurs box, and the 16 year old forward advanced into the box before attempting to take the ball around Austin who was able to recover excellently to get a hand on the ball and take it away from Soonsup-Bell. After Jack Clarke had won a free kick on the edge of the Chelsea box, Harvey White hit his resulting effort straight into the Chelsea wall, before Jack Clarke had an effort blocked. Levi Colwill headed behind a corner kick from Lewis Bate at the other end of the pitch, before a long forward ball to Alfie Devine was brilliantly brought down by the midfielder, who then managed to do well to get past George Nunn before shooting wide after getting into a more central position. George Nunn cleared a Jack Clarke free kick before a melee took place, after a strong two footed lunge on Danny Drinkwater from Alfie Devine resulted in Drinkwater kicking out at Devine. After the melee had ended the referee showed straight red cards to both players, before showing yellow cards to several players including Kion Etete. Elliot Thorpe replaced George Marsh in the middle of the park, before White fouled Jude Soonsup-Bell right on the edge of the Spurs penalty area. However, Marcel Lewis curled his resulting over Brandon Austin’s crossbar, before Henry Lawrence excellent strike from range went just wide of Austin’s goal. Under 18 player Romaine Mundle then replaced Dane Scarlett out on the right flank to make his competitive under 23 debut, before Lyons-Foster put behind a cross from Marcel Lewis. 

Chelsea went ahead in the game on 88 minutes after Thierno Ballo had passed the ball to Marcel Lewis on the right flank, before Lewis dragged the ball back for Myles Peart Harris in the Spurs box, and he slotted the ball well into the bottom left hand corner of Austin’s goal, 2-3. Spurs responded by sending on Maurizio Pochettino for Marcel Lavinier, as Spurs tried desperately hard to level up the scores. After Clarke had won a free kick Harvey White tried to test Cech, but his effort was stopped by the Chelsea wall. A good late move for Chelsea saw George Nunn pass the ball to Jude Soonsup-Bell who then gave it to Lewis Bate who found Myles Peart-Harris down the right side of the Spurs box, but his volley went wide of the goal, in what was to be the final piece of action from a pulsating game of Premier League 2 football. Spurs’ next game at this level is against Liverpool on Saturday, in Merseyside.

Player reviews: 

  • Brandon Austin: The Spurs goalkeeper surprisingly didn’t actually haven’t an awful lot to do against Chelsea, apart from facing their three efforts on goal, which he really couldn’t have done anything about. Austin did make a superb recovery to get a hand on the ball to prevent a certain goal for Chelsea’s Jude Soonsup Bell, after he had given the ball straight to him on the edge of the Spurs box.
  • Jubril Okedina: The Spurs captain had a solid first half, and he always stayed tight to his man throughout the game. Okedina did make a slightly untimed challenge on Chelsea’s George Nunn inside the Spurs box during the second half, but these things can happen to any defender especially against a team as good as Chelsea. 
  • Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: Operating at RCB, 20 year old defender Brooklyn Lyons-Foster made some good clearances and I thought that he read the game well against what was a very good Chelsea front line.
  • Tobi Omole: A defender who I have always been impressed with when I have seen him play for Arsenal at academy level over the years, Tobi Omole put in another impressive performance for our under 23 side. Making some fine clearances, like Lyons-Foster I thought that he read the game well but was also disciplined from a defensive point of view, while also looking good on the ball. 
  • Marcel Lavinier: Starting against his former club for the first time on Monday evening and playing at left back, Marcel Lavinier showed great pace on occasions during the game. He also went on some good forward runs for Spurs and showed good tenacity during his time on the pitch.
  • George Marsh: The CDM never stopped running and he allowed Harvey White to get forward more.
  • Harvey White: My man of the match, see below.
  • Dane Scarlett: Our under 18’s top scorer this season marked his competitive under 23 debut for Spurs by scoring a really well taken headed goal. What I really liked about Scarlett’s performance while he was playing out of position on the right wing, was his good defensive work and his determination to track back and help out Okedina. Scarlett also showed some good movement off the ball, and he took his goal brilliantly by scoring yet another header!
  • Alfie Devine: Showing some fine pieces of individual skill, CAM Alfie Devine’s night may have been ended by him receiving a late red card, but there was plenty that he should be proud of. He was confident on the ball and not afraid to take players on, but he was also intelligent and not afraid to get stuck in and make his mark on the game. 
  • Jack Clarke: Another player who showed good pace, left winger Jack Clarke liked to take on his man. He was confident and showed good skill, and I thought that he gave a good account of himself on the night.
  • Kion Etete: After scoring in our last three under 23 games, hardworking centre forward Kion Etete may not have scored against Chelsea on Monday, but he did work really hard and pressed the Chelsea defence well, while also showing good strength on the ball and also laying it off well to the other forward players.
  • Elliot Thorpe: The 20 year old substitute got stuck in during the latter stages of the game after replacing George Marsh.
  • Romaine Mundle: N/A.
  • Maurizio Pochettino: N/A.

My man of the match: After Monday evenings game against Chelsea, central midfielder Harvey White has now been directly involved in seven goals (four assists and three goals) from ten Premier League 2 matches for Spurs’ under 23’s this season. White (19) was as always nice and tidy on the ball, using it well and intelligently throughout what was a very demanding game. However, his defensive work really impressed me, and his willingness to get stuck in as well as not being afraid to be on the other end of some strong challenges, showed how good his desire and determination is. The Maidstone born midfielder also assisted Dane Scarlett’s goal with a superb curling pin point pass, to cap off another fine performance from the consistent and versatile midfielder.

Spurs u23’s stats:

Goals: Kion Etete – 3

Harvey White – 3

Rodel Richards – 2

Kazaiah Sterling – 1

George Marsh – 1

Jack Clarke – 1

Dilan Markanday – 1

Alfie Devine – 1

Maurizio Pochettino – 1

Dane Scarlett – 1

Jubril Okedina – 1

Assists: Harvey White – 4

Brooklyn Lyons-Foster – 2

Jack Roles – 1

Dilan Markanday – 1

Dennis Cirkin – 1

Kazaiah Sterling – 1

J’Neil Bennett – 1

Jack Clarke – 1

Danny Rose – 1

Alfie Devine – 1

Substitutes (not used) against Chelsea: Kurylowicz, Muir.

Spurs under 23’s versus Chelsea: (match preview)

After recording an impressive three-two win over a good Blackburn Rovers team the previous Monday, Wayne Burnett’s Spurs under 23 side will now be preparing to face the reigning champions of the Premier League 2 Division one, in London rivals Chelsea (the game takes place on Monday at Kingsmeadow, with the game starting at 7pm). Starting for Alan Myers’s Chelsea side on Monday is 38 year old goalkeeper Petr Cech who has decided to come out of retirement, after having last played a competitive game of football in the May of 2019. So the former Czech Republic international and Chelsea legend will definitely add quality and experience to a Chelsea side who sit in third place in the league table, and have won all four of their home league games this season. Spurs recorded a draw (two-two) away, and lost one-nil at home to Chelsea last season in the Premier League 2, with both games demanding a lot from the Spurs players against a high intensity and physical Chelsea team. Danny Drinkwater (30) and Ghana international Baba Rahman (26)  have played for Chelsea’s under 23 side already this season, so I’m sure that the Spurs players will be aware of their quality going into tomorrow’s game. Some of the Chelsea’s players to keep an eye on tomorrow (the game is being shown on Chelsea’s Fifth Stand app and official website) include attacking midfielder Thierno Ballo, former Tromso forward Bryan Fiabema who has four league goals this season and commanding centre half Sam McClelland. There is no doubting that this will be a very tough game for Wayne Burnett’s side, but after ending a three game run without a win last Monday, I reckon that tomorrow’s game will be quite a close and very competitive one. I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for the game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Austin, Lavinier, Okedina (c), Lyons-Foster, Rose, Marsh, White, Pochettino, Devine, Clarke, Etete.

Subs from: De Bie, Omole, Thorpe, Pedder, Mukendi.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: Malachi Fagan-Walcott and Dilan Markanday.

Previous meeting: Spurs nil-one Chelsea.

My score prediction: Spurs three-two Chelsea.

My one to watch: 17 year old Norwegian forward Bryan Fiabema, who has four Premier League 2 goals from seven appearances so far this season.

My interview with former Spurs player Steve Outram:

(Steve Outram is pictured above. He is the last on the right, of the back row.)

Romford born Steven William Outram was a fast and direct wide player who loved to get to the byline and deliver crosses into the danger zone. At Spurs from 1968 to 1971 as a youth player and part of the Spurs youth team that won the Southern Junior Cup in 1970, Steve Outram left Spurs as a 17 year old and ended up quitting the game altogether (Steve did go out on loan to Southend United during his time at Spurs). He did however, get into athletics as he was a talented athlete, and also surfing, a hobby which Steve still does to this very day. Now retired and living by the coast, I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of catching up with Steve who is a really nice guy, to look back on his time at Spurs during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Steve: I played at a match for Basildon at Redbridge and Dickie Walker was there and I didn’t know that, and then afterwards he came up to me and said would I like to train on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Tony Want and John Pratt, who took the training. So I used to go from school and go up there in 1968 and so that was one of my earliest memories. I’ll never forget that I went to pre-season training and Jimmy Greaves was my idol, and all of a sudden I’d gone from playing as a schoolboy to actually lining up against Jimmy Greaves, and I just froze as it was really difficult. It was weird because I was used to being at the stadium and then all of a sudden you’re on the pitch, so that would be my earliest memories.

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?

Steve: Well the year before I signed as an apprentice I signed as an amateur and played in the junior side, and we played against West Ham and Chelsea and all them. We used to go up to Cheshunt to train now and again and Ron Henry was our manager and I really liked him, but then in the next year when I signed as an apprentice going to the ground was quite weird really. Nowadays you go into gyms and everybody’s singing and dancing, but I remember that we used to train in the morning and then do jobs in the afternoon or sometimes we’d do weights. The gym was underneath one of the stands at White Hart Lane and there was like two bits of wood with a pole across, and you used to put weighs on the end, and there was a few dumbbells and a couple of benches and that was it, can you imagine it? Also I remember Cecil Poynton and he was a lovely old guy and he was a Yorkshireman, and it was a running joke that you used to come in everyday and say where’s my keys! As he could never find his keys, so that was really funny. Also training around the pitch you used to have the things with the A, B, C, D and people used to put the half-time scores from other matches up, but we used to jog and sprint those. Also you had people like Terry Venables, Pat Jennings and Alan Gilzean and they were just incredible, and so going to Cheshunt and training with those guys were some of my earliest memories. I don’t think that I was mentally ready for it and that jump though.

Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?

Steve: Well Greaves was the main one but also people like George Best as I used to love wingers. So people like Cliff Jones, Jimmy Robertson, Francis Lee and Stan Bowles and the people like that were the characters that I loved, but I mean Best, Greaves and Dennis Law were the main ones, and also Eusébio from Portugal and Pelé, but Greaves was the man.

Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?

Steve: I was number seven so outside-right as they had five forwards back in the day. I was fast, and my game was to get the ball and run and cross it but I also scored quite a lot of goals as well as a winger, but it was really just to get the ball and run at people, which I don’t know if they do as much anymore. But I would just go down to the byline and get it over, so my game was pace, but I wasn’t very good with tactics. A newspaper clipping said that Steve Outram hit the jackpot, scoring five well taken goals with Bobby Scarth and Bob Field getting the other two as the Spurs juniors beat Leyton Orient juniors in a game at Cheshunt. So that was pretty much what type of player I was.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Steve: That’s interesting. I think that Tony Want and John Pratt were really good but I didn’t have much to do with the first team, but Eddie Baily was an influence and Dickie Walker the scout, but overall I would say Ron Henry. Ron Henry was incredible while John Pratt was good with the training, and Jimmy Pearce, Terry Lee and Phil Holder (he was incredible!) but that was about it really. 

Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?

Steve: Graeme Souness was one of them but also Roger Morgan the winger was another one along with Alan Gilzean who had a great touch, and was a big influence. 

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the various Tottenham youth teams?

Steve: Winning the league was the biggest thing really I would say, but also being around the first team when they won the cup and we went to the Savoy, and things like that. Earlier on that newspaper clipping that I read out, I didn’t mention that Bill Nicholson was watching me in that game and afterwards he criticised something that I did, and I let that affect me in a bad way. So my advice to anyone would be to take it on board and take it as a positive to get better and learn, and I didn’t and I used to let things like that, and things that Pat Welton used to say affect me and I would take it the wrong way. I took it as criticism and not creative criticism, and so I struggled with that. 

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Steve: I think it was getting signed by Spurs and just being invited for the training as it was incredible and unforgettable really. We used to be given season tickets and it was amazing.

Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with? 

Steve: Jimmy Greaves. There is no doubt about that, although I could say Souness but I think I would have to say Jimmy Greaves without a doubt. 

Who was the toughest player that you ever came up against?

Steve: Graeme Souness. He was so hard although we did play West Ham once and they had a player (whose name I can’t remember) and he was pretty hard as well. 

What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?

Steve: Well Eddie Baily came up to me and he said sorry you’re not going to make the grade unfortunately, and that was before my 17th birthday when you had to sign professional, and so that was that. It was difficult and after that I never really played again which is interesting, but I did get into surfing and athletics, because as I say I was fast and I actually got an English national three A’s medal for 10,000 metres. I competed with Basildon and we had a great team which included the likes of Eamonn Martin, but I got into athletics and surfing and I never played again really. I did have the odd kick about with mates’ teams now and again but I never came back from it really, though I don’t regret it as I did other things which was good like I say and I was good at athletics. But it was hard and I admire people that pick themselves up like Peter Taylor who was rejected by Spurs, but he picked himself up and on he went. But to be honest I didn’t have the character at the time, but funnily enough and once I got into athletics I developed a mental character, and I had two coaches and one was big on psychology. If I’d have had that at Tottenham it would have helped me, and for example before a match if it was an away match then we would stop on the motorway and have steak and chips two hours before a match! Also, everyday we would go in the White Hart and we’d have soft drinks, but the pros wouldn’t as they’d be in the pub drinking. So anyway once I got into athletics I had a different mindset and if I’d have had that while I was playing football I think that things could have been different, for example just breaking things down. In athletics we looked at a six months training schedule and we’d aim at six months to a year, and we’d look at diet and specific training, which I am sure that they do now in football. 

We used to go out before a match and have a kick about and there was no stretching as we’d just start playing, and the first team did it as well. Jimmy Greaves never used to kick a ball about, and one day I’ll never forget that he was in the changing room and he was smoking, and I was thinking my hero’s smoking before a match and it was just incredible. I think that I would have been better playing football now as it has changed a lot, and I was never one of the boys if that makes sense, and I was never one for going down to the pub, and it was all about that then and that didn’t help. Another criticism that I got was for being distant and I weren’t, it’s just that I weren’t really interested in that sort of Jack the Lad stuff if that makes sense, but it’s funny now how it has changed.

What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?

Steve: The first two years was positive and really good as a schoolboy and as an amateur, and I enjoyed it but once I signed as an apprentice professional I can’t say that I enjoyed it. I didn’t particularly get on with Pat Welton who was our manager although I did get on well with Ron Henry, and I loved football but once you start doing something and getting paid for it, it changes for me. It’s funny with surfing and I’m still surfing now although I’ve got a problem with my back, but with football once you train everyday it’s different. If it had have been different then I think that I would have enjoyed it more, as I say I liked athletics because it was more scientific, but in football we used to go out and do a few drills and then have a five-a-side match but I found it a bit repetitive to be honest, you know. But now they’d be in the gym and doing all sorts of cardiovascular stuff and that, but overall I enjoyed my time at Spurs and it was good. But also it was difficult, because once you let your head go down it’s really hard, I mean for the last 20 years I’ve been retired as I was a teaching assistant with special needs pupils. When I used to look at pupils sometimes they’d be in class and do something, and fail and then their head would go down but I used to say to them that failure is part of success, but I never had that when I was younger. I never had that, and I used to think that I was not good enough and that was the end of it, and I don’t think that that was true actually, but there you go. Although it was really good at Spurs especially as I had always supported them and still do.

Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?

Steve: Terry Lee, Kevin Worsfold who you interviewed and Julio Grato who sadly died last year, also Micky Flanagan I was close to, so I was really close with those guys. Julio Grato was great and his parents were Spanish and I came from an east end working class background and I was brought up on bangers and mash. One time he took me to his house and they lived in Stoke Newington somewhere, and his parents cooked me this meal and it was something Spanish although I forget what it was, and it was incredible and I thought that this was great, and it showed me a different world from where I came from. But I was closest to Terry Lee really and he was a character and a half.

What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

Steve: I would say to players don’t do what I did which was taking criticism personally, but take on board what is said, like when Bill Nicholson said that I could have done this or that, after I had scored five goals in a match. I should have taken that on board and got better you know, and the other thing is that I breezed through playing for my school and my county, but once I got to Spurs it was a different ball game, and I should have knuckled down. I thought that I had made it and I hadn’t, but I would say that it’s just a start and just take as much advice as you can get and knuckle down and train and take the knocks and move on. I would say basically to not give up, my one big regret was giving up, but there you go. I didn’t look to learn enough, and you asked me questions about who I looked up to to improve but if I’m honest I didn’t actually do that much. Although I did do that when I got into athletics and surfing, and in athletics especially I studied people and tactics, and all sorts of stuff as I was a track runner. So I would say to really study people and learn as much as you can.

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?

Steve: I still love Tottenham and that will never change. Afterwards it was hard but now when I look back and the hurts gone It was a privilege to be at Spurs, and to have been in the Savoy with the first team after they won the cup was something which I wish I could go back and enjoy now. It’s like a lot of things, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone as Bob Dylan sung. So it would be great to go back and savour it more. 

My interview with former Spurs player Jimmy Pearce:

James John Pearce was a versatile forward during his Spurs days, in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Tottenham born and bred, Jimmy Pearce had played for Tottenham Schools and England Schools during his schoolboy days before joining his boyhood club Spurs as an apprentice in the May of 1963. Admired by his teammates at youth level during those early days at Spurs, Pearce as a player was a very skilful one and he possessed great ball control and was a superb ball player, but he also liked to take on and beat his man. Able to play as an out and out winger or as a centre forward and as a midfield player, Pearce worked his way through the various youth ranks and up from the reserves to Bill Nicholson’s first team. He made his first team debut for Spurs in an end of season tour of Greece and Cyprus, in a game against Anorthosis in the May of 1968. At the beginning of the following season Jimmy made his competitive debut for Spurs, in a First Division game against Arsenal in the August of 1968. Going on to make over 200 more first team appearances for Spurs (not all of which were in competitive games) scoring 35 competitive goals, Jimmy Pearce played a big part in helping Spurs to reach the 1971 Football League Cup final, by scoring the winner against Bristol City in the semi-final second leg. Although Jimmy was an unused substitute in the final of that seasons cup final, and an unused substitute in both legs of the following seasons UEFA Cup Final, he did deservedly start in the final of the 1973 Football League Cup, when Spurs beat Norwich City one-nil, thanks to a Ralph Coates goal. Sadly and not long after that memorable day at Wembley, Pearce was forced to retire from playing due to injury. He did however, play again for a spell, playing for Walthamstow Avenue. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of speaking with Jimmy about his time at Tottenham Hotspur during the 1960’s and 70’s.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Jimmy: Well being a Tottenham supporter is one. Also playing football at school in the juniors where I started off, but also playing at home on the grass. I played for the junior school and I played for the Tottenham under 11s before I went to the secondary modern school in Tottenham, and I then played for Middlesex Boys before playing for England Schoolboys. So you know it was all from there.

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?

Jimmy: Well playing for the Tottenham Schoolboys and England obviously all the scouts were about, and I think that Fulham, Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham and Arsenal (who I went to see early on when I was at school) were watching me, but I was a Tottenham supporter. I could have left school when I was 15 but I got invited down (by Spurs) in 1963 although I had a couple of England games left, and so I stayed on at school for a term and then when I left they (Spurs) signed me on as an apprentice, and that was in 1963. When I was going to my interview with Bill Nicholson with my dad, one of my school friends who played with me in the England team, we passed his house, and he called me and said that Ron Greenwood has spoken to me and he said whatever you do don’t sign for them (West Ham) because he knew that I was going to go down there. When I got down to Spurs I had the interview and I signed, and that was it really, but I did have Ron Greenwood coming round my house that night.

Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?

Jimmy: Well it was all the Tottenham team right from before the double side, so from about 1958. You know everyone was great, and from when I arrived at Spurs you had Dave Mackay and Jimmy Greaves and just so many names you know, I was just in awe of them all. 

Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?

Jimmy: I started off as an inside forward which was a position that you used to have at number eight and number ten. I was a number ten or whatever, but then when I started playing professional and that, I started playing on the wings and at centre forward, and I think that I played a game at left-half as well. So I was versatile and I never had a set position as I was a utility player.

Could you talk me through your time playing in the various Tottenham youth teams and reserves, and could you share some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in those sides?

Jimmy: I remember that the youth games were played at Cheshunt and we played the likes of Arsenal and all them you know, and we had a good side and I think that we won the league once as well. Being an apprentice was quite tough you know and you had to knuckle down, I can remember being an apprentice because we used to do the grounds and the covers on the ground, where you used to roll them out when the snow was coming and all that, so that was difficult. As regards to the games it’s a bit hard to pick out as there were so many, and I was trying to think the other night about reserve games but they all sort of role into one. I did get some goals for them but it was just a matter of carrying on and just sticking by it you know, and there was a lot of luck involved.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Jimmy: Well obviously the trainers. You had Johnny Wallis who was our main one in the A team which was above the juniors in the South East Counties. Also you had Eddie Baily who was the assistant manager and he used to do a lot of shouting, but I think that he tried to toughen me up to get the centre forward spot but also to get stuck in. Though I wasn’t that type of player as I was more of a ball player, and without sounding big-headed it sort of came naturally to me you know, and I loved dribbling. As regards to players there were such great names at the club and I was just in awe of them every time and it was just unbelievable.

What are your memories of your competitive debut for the Spurs first team against Arsenal in the First Division, in the August of 1968. And how did it come about?

Jimmy: That was unbelievable (we lost two-one) but I can remember having a shot on goal and Bob Wilson saving it, and I think that it was a left footed screamer from the edge of the box and it was going into my top left hand corner. And Bob Wilson had just got to it, but I thought what if I had got that, but that’s all that I can remember from that game as you just remember little things you know, but it was a tough old game as they (Arsenal) were becoming a good side you know. I think that Martin Chivers was injured for that game so that was why I got in and I was centre forward.

Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?

Jimmy: Well I loved Jimmy Greaves and also Dave Mackay as a kid, since he joined in 1959 and he was just unbelievable really with his determination and grit and everything that he done. But I liked every player in the team from Pat Jennings to Cliff Jones who I used to love as well, but really it was just the whole team as they were so good.

If possible could you share some of your memories of your time as a player at Spurs during the 1971 Football League Cup winning campaign, the 1972 UEFA Cup winning campaign and the 1973 Football League Cup winning campaign?

Jimmy: Well in the final I was a substitute against Aston Villa but I got a couple of goals in that campaign including in the semi-final second leg against Bristol City when I got the winner, and that was that. I know in the other campaigns such as in 1972 that I got an away goal against West Brom when we won one-nil in the League Cup. In the 1973 Football League Cup final I knew that I hit the post in that game and I thought how did I miss that! Although Norwich played well in that game Ralph Coates got a goal, and I can remember that John Pratt was very unlucky in that game to come off after not being on very long. It wasn’t a classic game I know that but it was fantastic to win, and I remember going back to 1971 against Aston Villa when we won two-nil, and that was a better game although I didn’t come on in that. Although I didn’t play in either leg of the final in the 1972 UEFA Cup, I did play in some of the rounds, and I do remember the game against Olympiakos well and I scored two goals in that, which was during the following season. 

Other than the various cup campaigns that you went on with Spurs could you share with me some of your other favourite memories of your time at the club, or ones which particularly stand out?

Jimmy: Every game that we won! It was just fantastic and I loved it you know but you always analyse yourself when you lose and you just think the worst, and you go through all of your bad points, and what you should have done and what you couldn’t do and this, that and the other. When I did start off I was totally besotted with Tottenham and I remember that we used to go straight from school to the ground for the cup games and the replays and all that. And I remember queuing up to get in the ground and the atmosphere and everything was just fantastic.

What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites?

Jimmy: Well I remember that we won the League Cup and I remember that my last game was in 1973 and it was towards the end of the season, and against Sheffield United in the league was my last game. My knee was playing up and from then on I had this condition in my knee and at the end of that season I had an operation up at Stanmore, and the condition was Chondromalacia of the higher patella and I’ll always remember that. They did the operation on my knee and so then I was out for a year, and in that time I did a little bit of scouting for Spurs, but I didn’t want to leave Spurs, it was just because of this condition that I had. My ex brother-in-law used to play for Walthamstow Avenue and he used to keep on at me and say that he wanted me to come down to Walthamstow, and so I gave it a try. Although I only played about three or four games and that was it, as I was doing a job full time and my knee wasn’t good, and so that was it really. If my ex brother-in-law hadn’t have kept on at me then I wouldn’t have kept playing, as I knew that it just wasn’t right. 

What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?

Jimmy: It was brilliant really. I mean as an apprentice you used to do an hour and a half of training a day from half past ten to 12, and then you used to have lunch and then you used to come back for an hour or so during the afternoon and that was that. Then as a professional you just had the mornings and then you used to go back in the gym during the afternoons, but it’s so different now as they are all so organised with their diets and whatever. We (the players) used to go down the cafe down the road as apprentices and have competitions as to who could eat the most dinners and silly things like that, and then go back and train and run it off. However, my time at Spurs just went so quickly but it was a brilliant time.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Jimmy: Although we lost it would be the game against Arsenal in my first game, so I think that that would be the highlight in a way, apart from winning the League Cup I suppose. I didn’t win a lot apart from that but when I look back now it was all like a dream for me and it was just fantastic.

Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with? 

Jimmy: It’s got to be Jimmy Greaves.

Who was the toughest player that you ever came up against?

Jimmy: Well I played against Chelsea and they had some hard players, and also Liverpool had the likes of Tommy Smith and whatever while Chelsea had Ronnie Harris. Leeds were also tough but the pitches were different to what they are now and they used sand on the pitch as well, so it was a bit hard on your legs obviously, and nothing like the pitches that they play on now.

Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?

Jimmy: There were a couple who I used to be close with and as apprentices we all used to go around with each other, and you’d go bowling or something, however, the main players were all married and they had their own lives. I used to try to play golf but I couldn’t get the hang of it although I loved it and I still love it, but I never took to it because for me it seemed to take up too much time when you were bringing up a family and trying to get the balance right. I did used to get on alright with most of the players at Spurs though and we used to have a good laugh.

What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

Jimmy: I think that the only advice I can give them is to make the most of what they’ve got now and really try and make each day your best day. I remember Cliff Jones saying to me that your career in football goes so quickly that you don’t realise it, and you wake up the next day and it’s all gone. So you’ve just got to make the most of it and make each day count as it’s a brilliant life.

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?

Jimmy: As I say it’s like a dream, and I’ve got all my old clippings from when Spurs won the double and from going to the town hall as a youngster and from taking photos on the balcony, and so afterwards I was part of that in a way. And I think that it was just unreal, and so that’s how I feel really.

Spurs under 23’s versus Blackburn Rovers: (match preview)

Our under 23’s will be looking to end their four game run without a win when they travel up to Lancashire to face Blackburn Rovers on Monday evening (the game starts at 19:00pm), in a Premier League 2 fixture which is being played behind closed doors. Wayne Burnett’s side lost by five goals to one in their last league game against Leicester City, which was played at Hotspur Way last Monday. Billy Barr’s Blackburn Rovers side recorded a one-one draw with Everton in their last Premier League 2 game and they sit in fifth place in the league table, four points above 11th place Spurs. Always a difficult team to beat, Blackburn have only lost one league game this season and that came at home against Arsenal who they lost six-nil to back in early November. In this fixture last season Spurs lost by four goals to nil when they faced Blackburn at the Leyland County ground, a physical and fairly direct side who won’t allow you to enjoy too much time on the ball. Former Coleraine midfielder Brad Lyons (23) is a good and experienced player who does have an eye for goal, while Scottish centre forward Connor McBride (19) has scored six goals from eight appearance in the Premier League 2 this season. 23 year old forward Harrison Chapman is a tricky and skilful player who could also cause Spurs problems on Monday. This will be another very tough game for Spurs, and in our last two meetings with Blackburn we have lost four-nil and three-nil. While I am unable to attend Monday’s game I shall be tweeting live scored updates on my Twitter account. Finally I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for this game. A win for Spurs could lift them as high up as seventh in the league standings.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Whiteman, Lavinier, Okedina (c), Lyons-Foster, Cirkin, Bowden, White, Clarke, Devine, Bennett, Etete.

Subs from: De Bie, Omole, Thorpe, Pochettino, Pedder.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: Malachi Fagan-Walcott and Dilan Markanday.

Previous meeting: Spurs nil-four Blackburn Rovers.

My score prediction: Spurs three-one.

My one to watch: Billy Barr’s team’s top scorer in the league this season Connor McBride. The 19 year old who has experience playing senior football with Stenhousemuir in Scotland, has already scored six goals from eight Premier League 2 appearances this season.

Spurs under 18’s versus Crystal Palace: (match preview)

Newly promoted to Category one academy status, south London club Crystal Palace have started their first season in the Under 18 Premier League South really well. Currently occupying fourth place in the league table, Crystal Palace have picked up 18 points from just eight league games so far this season, and they are on the same points tally as us going in to Saturday mornings (the game starts at 11am) game at their training ground in Beckenham. I cannot say much about how Crystal Palace play at this level as I haven’t seen them play at this level, though both their under 18 and 23 teams have started the season really well. Last Saturday Spurs were denied their third league victory in a row because of a very late Leicester equaliser in that game at Hotspur Way. Schoolboy Jamie Donley made his competitive debut for Spurs’ under 18’s in that game as he played up front, and he also scored our only goal of the game. As our under 18’s top scorer this season Dane Scarlett travelled to Austria with out first team recently, and I do wonder whether or not Donley will get another start tomorrow. Although I will be unable to attend tomorrow’s game due to the current situation, I will be tweeting live score updates on my Twitter account. I wish the team all the very best of luck for the match, and will stay second in the league if we win against Crystal Palace.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala (c), Cesay, Muir, Paskotši, Hackett, Matthew Craig, John, Whittaker, Robson, Santiago, Donley.

Subs from: Hayton, Michael Craig, Mundle, Scarlett. 

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: N/A.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: Crystal Palace’s 18 year old forward David Omilabu who has scored eight league goals from eight appearances so far this season.

My interview with former Spurs player Micky Hazard:

A technically gifted and highly skilled creative midfield player, Sunderland born Michael Hazard had his footballing talents spotted by a Tottenham Hotspur scout as a 14 year scout during the 1970’s, and the former St Aidan’s School pupil eventually joined Spurs as an apprentice, at 16 years of age. With great vision, a superb footballing brain and quick and tricky feet, Hazard created many a fine chance for the Spurs forwards during his two spells at the club thanks also to his fine passing range, and he also scored some really taken and important goals. After rising through the youth and reserve team ranks at Spurs, Micky would go on to make his competitive debut for the club in a First Division game against Everton at White Hart Lane in the April of 1980. Going on to make a further 169 competitive appearances for Spurs during his time at the club (scoring 25 goals), Hazard’s successful first spell saw him play his part in helping us to win the 1982 FA Cup and 1984 UEFA Cup, as well as being a part of the side that finished as runners up to Liverpool in the 1982 Football League Cup final. Hazard’s first spell at Spurs came to an end in the September of 1985 when he made the move across London to Chelsea. A shining light at the Blues during their time in the Second Division, Micky Hazard also helped them to get back to the First Division, by winning the 1989/90 Division Two league title, and also the Full Members Cup in 1986. A spell at Portsmouth and later Swindon Town (under Ossie Ardiles) followed for Hazard, and he helped Swindon to win the Division One Play-off final in 1993. However, towards the end of his career he joined Spurs for a second time, and it was at his first professional club where he ended his time in the professional game in 1995, before entering the non-League, where he played for Hertfordshire based club Hitchin Town for a time.

Hazard did return to Spurs once again though, when he joined them as an academy coach, spending a good number of years coaching Spurs’ talented young players, players that to this day still speak about with him such high regard. He would also go on to become an academy coach at Crystal Palace before holding a number of positions in non-League football. Now working in hospitality on match days at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Hazard is rightly regarded by Spurs supporters as a club legend, and is much loved by them, and he is without doubt one of the nicest former professional footballers that you’re ever likely to have the pleasure of meeting. I recently had the great pleasure of talking to Micky at length about his time at his beloved Spurs, a club that he still holds very close to his heart to this very day.

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Micky: My earliest football memories was playing for my junior school and we was a top top footballing school, and there were lots of players that sort of came through that school, such as Kevin Dillon and Micky Harford, who were all in my teams and they went on and became professionals at the highest level. So that was my earliest memory, but in particular there are certain things, like we used to win cups such as the County Cup which was called the Bishop’s Cup, which was like the biggest cup for schools in the area. I can remember scoring a wonder goal in the final (it was a two legged final) and we went away to a team with the same school name as us – St Cuthbert’s, and mine was St Cuthbert’s. We drew one-one away and I scored a wonder goal, and then in the home leg we won one-nil, so we won the Bishop’s Cup and so my name or my school was written on the Bishop’s Cup, so I’ll always be a winner of the famous Bishop’s Cup. So that’s my earliest memory really.

What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?

Micky: Well obviously Spurs had an assistant manager in the day called Wilf Dixon who was born and bred in Sunderland, and he had set up a little small scouting network up there, basically a one man, and the one man came and befriended my dad. He came and watched me every week and got friendly with my dad and invited us for dinner, took me for extra training etc, etc, etc, and when it came to decision day at the age of 14 which in those days you couldn’t sign outside of an hours journey for anyone, so I had to wait until I was 14. So when the decision had to be made he won my dad’s heart and my mum’s heart and that was it, it was done. I’ll always remember coming down as a schoolboy and getting a train with the first team as they thought highly of me, and getting a train with the likes of Steve Perryman and Glenn Hoddle at the age of 14/15. I don’t remember too much about the playing as such in those days because you just got in little friendlies, but when I got to 16 I became full time and I remember this one game in particular when I scored a goal. If we had a video of it, it would probably go down as the best goal that I’ve ever scored and one of the all time great goals. We were playing Arsenal as well and we beat them five-nil and I scored this goal, and it was described in the programme (that’s probably how I remember it so much) as a copybook goal. I picked the ball up just inside Arsenal’s half and I played four one-two’s to the edge of the box, and the final one-two got me in behind the defence and I slotted it away. That is unheard of to have so many one-two’s and certainly at the young age of 16, it was an incredible goal, and because it was against them as well it sort of made it much more satisfying as well, and it’s something that’s probably stuck with me forever. That is probably my earliest memory of one of my first ever games for Spurs.

Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?

Micky: I did, my favourite all time player was Johan Cruyff and I thought he was incredible, graceful, elegant and stylish. He played the game in the way that I believe it should be played, the way that growing up my dad would preach to me. Also I loved Alan Ball and he was an absolutely wonderful footballer and the first to wear white boots, and the first to win the World Cup, so he was one of my heroes. But I loved the great Leeds team of the 70’s, and they were absolutely brilliant to watch and I thought that they were as hard as nails, but they played football the way that it should be played in terms of the passing game, and they were brilliant. It was only really when I joined Spurs at the age of 14 that they became my favourite team over Leeds, and obviously I’d been spotted by Spurs at 11 so I knew that I was going to go to Spurs one day, so they were there. But watching Leeds was brilliant, absolutely brilliant to watch, Johnny Giles, Billy Bremner, Allan Clarke were super super footballers. Norman Hunter, Bobby Charlton, Terry Cooper, I could name the team, but then obviously once I joined Spurs there is something about when you join a club, there is something about finding your home and a chemistry and something that just seems to fit. That didn’t happen immediately as obviously it takes time but once you settle and you get rid of the homesickness etc, I use the words chemistry and where the heart is, but you sort of just fall into it and then it’s like nowhere else you’ve ever been. It happens without you actually realising it as well, you don’t know how much you love the club until later down the line. My motto on how the game should be played, is be creative, play with flair and excite people. Me and Tottenham sort of fit like a hand to a glove in many ways, so that was the way I sort of fell in love with Tottenham really.

How would you describe yourself as a player during your time at Spurs?

Micky: I think I was very gifted and very talented, and without being big-headed I would say that there was only one player that I felt had more natural talent than me and that doesn’t mean that I was the best player. It means that in terms of natural ability that I think that me and Glenn Hoddle were very much from the same book, and so in terms of talent I didn’t fear anyone, I had no fear of any other player. Maybe at times I was a little bit in awe of Glenn with how good he was, but in terms of every other player I never felt in awe of any one, I  always felt well I’m very gifted and I can hold my own with anyone. I had a great range of pass, short pass and long pass, either foot, outside or inside. Technically I was very good as well and also very skilful, I had very quick feet and I was nimble and I could jump in and out of tackles as I was very aware of where the tackles were coming from. I could also see the pass too, so I would say that if you would sort of value me in today’s market then you would probably value me around about £4 billion or something like that!

Could you talk me through your time playing in the Tottenham youth team and reserves, and could you share some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in those sides?

Micky: Well that goal that I scored against the Arsenal youth team obviously, and obviously we had a great cup run in my second year at Spurs (when I was 17), and we reached the FA Youth Cup semi-final, where we played the great Crystal Palace team of Kenny Sansom, Jerry Murphy and Vincent Hilaire. They had an incredible team and we played them away in a two-legged semi-final and we’d been brilliant up until this semi-final. We’d been absolutely superb and then we played Crystal Palace away and it was two-legged, and we actually played really really well on the night, and I played really well as well against a very very powerful team. They were a lot more experienced than we were as most of them were playing in the first team, and then of course we’d got them back to White Hart Lane (we’d lost two-one I think in the first leg), and we’d got them back to White Hart Lane and we were incredibly confident, I mean incredibly confident. After two minutes Paul Miller got sent off, so not only were we playing the best youth team around at that time, we were now doing it with ten men and eventually we lost six-nil. So it was very difficult for inexperienced youngsters at that age to play against a top youth team, and of course when one goes in, and two goes in it becomes a very big ask, but it was a wonderful run and a wonderful time, and something that I thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed. I must be honest it built my taste for success up, because the following season I was desperate to win the FA Youth Cup and I thought that we had the team to win it. I thought that we played absolutely brilliantly and I can’t remember which round we went out in (I think we won two games) but we were brilliant. I think that we played Liverpool with Sammy Lee and we lost two-one and got knocked out although my memory sort of fails me a little bit, but so again it was disappointing because I thought having had the experience of playing with a very very young youth team from the previous year, we were now all experienced youth players, as we were in our third year.

You had three years in the youth team and we were in our third year and we were all coming up to our 18th birthdays and somehow we didn’t make the most of it, which was very disappointing. When I say it was disappointing more or less the similar group of players in the reserve league which was called the Football Combination in those days, we won it three years running. So we went from a youth team into a reserve team and managed to win the Football Combination three years running, and I don’t know if that’s ever been done before but we did it. So it’s strange because having been at school and won trophies every year for my school team whichever school I was in, it felt like the norm, so to win three Football Combination’s just felt like the norm because we used to win the league every year at school. So it just felt like eventually the natural progression would happen, and we’d win the league and the FA Cup every year, but it took me a little while to realise that it actually doesn’t happen like that, sadly. But winning the Football Combination is an incredible achievement as is winning the league three times in a a row, but especially as youngsters. What you have to remember about the Football Combination is that it was used as a stepping stone for good youngsters in the first team, but also as a place for experienced players to keep fit when they weren’t in the first team, or coming back from injury. So I played against the England captain (Gerry Francis) when I was 17/18 in the reserves you know, so that was the great thing and that is what I think is wrong about today’s football. I think that there should be a reserve team because of the experience it gives you of playing with great players. I played in the reserves with Glenn Hoddle, Steve Perryman, Ossie Ardiles, Ricky Villa and Steve Archibald, because they were coming back from injuries so you got the experience of playing with great players and playing against great players.

Today youngsters spend their time up to the age of 23 more or less playing in their own age bracket, which incredibly will stifle development because the better the player you play with and against the more you learn and the more you learn to cope with it. And the more you learn to actually become a better footballer, if you don’t learn it tells the story that you weren’t good enough to get there anyway.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Micky: I would say Keith Burkinshaw and Peter Shreeves, obviously they were my coaches but also Glenn Hoddle and Ossie Ardiles. Glenn Hoddle was someone I looked up to and admired and watched a lot, and would often try and learn from, from the things that he did. Ossie Ardiles was probably the single biggest individual influence on my career and he loved me as a player, and wanted to educate me in other areas of the game such as the little tricks. And the fact that I was up against Ossie from a positional sense, and the fact that he was prepared to help and advice me all along the way says a lot for his character. Steve Perryman was another one who would spend lots of time talking to me and advising me, so yeah  there were quite a few big influences, but if I had to choose one I would say Ossie Ardiles.

What are your memories of your competitive debut for the Spurs first team against Everton in the First Division, in the April of 1980. And how did it come about?

Micky: Well I was supposed to make my debut the previous week against Man United at Old Trafford, and we trained on the Thursday and I developed a blister on my big toe. That night I burst it myself at home, and when I woke up the next morning on the Friday it had got badly infected, and so I couldn’t walk and i couldn’t train and so I obviously didn’t play in the game. It’s an interesting fact that if Spurs had won four-nil then I might never have made my debut, but we lost four-nil at Old Trafford, so he was going to make changes the following week. I was fit and ready and I sort of had an idea all week because when we were playing first team versus reserves I was often in the first team, and then on the Friday they confirmed it that I was playing. I don’t remember too much about the game except that I got man of the match, I wasn’t because there were better players but I got the sympathy award because I was a youngster coming through the system and playing with all of these great players. I remember sitting in the dressing room and on one side I had Glenn Hoddle and on the other side I had Ossie Ardiles, and I was thinking to myself what the heck to do they need me for if they’ve got these two. So yeah, it was an incredible experience and another was John Pratt whose place I’d taken, had come up to me before the game and said listen Mick show the fans how good you are and they’ll absolutely love you, and your skill and your flair, express yourself and they’ll love you. That I thought was an incredible thing and after the game he came in to me while I was lying in the bath and said Micky absolutely superb today, pleasure to watch you. I thought that was wonderful and I hold him in such high esteem because of that.

It’s easy as a player to wish someone who has taken your place not to do well, but not John Pratt as he was full of praise and full of compliments, and he was brilliant.

Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?

Micky: There was so many! Obviously you looked to players who have played in your position but there was lots to learn from other types of players as well. You’ve got Glenn and Ossie and Ricky who were very similar positions to me, and if you don’t learn of them then you are not going to be learning at all. Then you’ve got Steve Perryman who would teach me things about being a leader and talking, and helping to make your game easier by talking to your teammates around you. So there’s lots of ways around you to learn from, such as Ray Clemence who was a born winner and there was just lots of things to learn. You should never ever put a stop to your learning, because the minute that you think you’ve learned it all puts limitations on what you can learn, and so you shouldn’t do that because there’s always something to learn. 

If possible could you share some of your memories of your time as a player at Spurs during the 1982 FA Cup winning campaign, the 1984 UEFA Cup winning campaign and the 1982 Football League Cup campaign when we finished as runners up?

Micky: It’s interesting the 1982 League Cup campaign, as right the way through to the final I played really really well. I scored three winning goals in the various rounds, and I got the winner in the semi-final, and we won one-nil in all three games and I scored all three goals. So I was very instrumental in us getting to the final, and I scored a very good goal in the semi-final for us to win one-nil against West Brom, and then in the final we were winning one-nil until I got taken off, as Keith had taken me off. I remember Jimmy Greaves in the paper after we had lost, saying (it’s easy to say this when you lose, by the way) it was the biggest mistake from a manager since someone (I can’t remember who it was) got taken off in the 1970 World Cup, so yeah I didn’t really deserve be taken off. But I got took off and I was sitting on the bench, and to compound my misery we were one-nil up and we lost three-one after extra time, so that was incredibly disappointing. But then in the FA Cup final a couple of months later we put it right, and we had all played 60 odd games that season so we were all exhausted. The final went to a replay and Wembley was amazing, my parents, my family and everyone was there. I remember walking out before the game and seeing them in the stadium and them seeing me, and imagining how they would feel looking down on me. One of their sons and their brother, who was walking out at Wembley stadium and about to be playing in an FA Cup final, it truly was an amazing experience. And we won it which made it even better, you know defeat is very difficult to take in a final but when you win a final it’s absolutely glorious. It glosses over every single bad thing that might have happened on the day and it clouds your judgement as time passes, and everything seems to have gone perfect and was wonderful. If we had lost everything sort of gets a bit darker, but no it was a wonderful memory.

Then in 1984 it was absolutely wonderful and for some reason I found my form and in the semi-final I remember that we had Hadjuk Split. I remember that I was outstanding away in Hadjuk Split and we came away with a two-one defeat, I don’t know how as we should have won by five. I of course then scored the winning goal when we got back to the Lane and again I was on top form, and then of course to get to the final in your own stadium in the second leg. We were in top form in both legs and away, and then obviously we lost our captain Steve Perryman and we had no Glenn Hoddle, and we had no Ossie Ardiles, and no Garth Crooks and no Ray Clemence. So a lot of the starting 11 were out, and a lot of the responsibility rested on my shoulders because I was the most creative player left and again I found my top form and we won it, and it crowned what was a wonderful week for me having been picked for the full England team. Three days after the UEFA Cup final I was sub for the full England team at Hampden Park against Scotland, so yeah wonderful memories which with age do get better. As I said everything clouds your judgement, I mean the goal that I scored in the quarter final of the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge for instance I know exactly how I scored it, but 38 years later ironically I had just scored a 20 yard shot from the edge of the box that went in instead of beating seven men from the halfway line. In victory everything seems wonderful but when I look back at all the winning goals that I got in the cup runs, and I got three winning goals in the League Cup including the semi-final winner, and I got the winner in the semi-final of the UEFA Cup as well as the winning goal in the quarter final of the FA Cup, and I think wow! If someone had have told me when I was a young boy growing up dreaming of playing in these big cup games and these finals, that I was going to score so many winning goals along the route, and particularly along the semi-finals, then I would have paid money to do that!

What prompted you to leave Spurs for the first time and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites prior to rejoining them?

Micky: I didn’t really have a choice, we had played Newcastle at home on the Saturday and we had won five-one, and I had scored. I was in the players lounge celebrating and Peter Shreeves called me in and told me that the club had accepted an offer off Chelsea for me, as they had a few cash flow problems, and Chelsea had offered a then record fee for them, for me. So that’s how my move to Chelsea came about though I never wanted to leave Spurs obviously, and I was quite a shy boy then as well, as the only club that I’d ever known was Spurs, and the only manager and players that I’d ever known was at Spurs. So suddenly I had to take my shyness elsewhere and I knew the problems that that would create for me and so I basically ended up joining Chelsea. I was basically given an ultimatum that if I don’t go then I won’t be picked again, which tended to happen in those days. So I went and then I longed to come back to Spurs, which isn’t putting down Chelsea or any other club that I played for, it’s just that Spurs were my club and I longed to come back. I was absolutely worshipped by the Chelsea fans, and they loved me and they sang my name every week, they loved my kind of player but ultimately your heart is where your heart is. And then I had three fantastic years at Swindon with Glenn and Ossie, helping them to win promotion to the Premier League, so to get the opportunity to come back to my schoolboy club and my first love was absolutely incredible at the age of 33. So yeah I grabbed it with both hands and in fact I was so happy to return, that at the age of 35 and when Gerry Francis arrived and obviously wasn’t going to build his team around me as I was too old, so obviously I wasn’t going to be in the plans. I was offered contracts, Birmingham City offered me a contract for quite a lot of money but I thought no, I’m finishing at my club as this is where I started and this is where I’m finishing. I don’t want to be anywhere else and I don’t want to go anywhere else and so I’m just retiring.

Obviously I was having a few injury problems at the time so it made the decision easier, but to retire at the club that I started with was absolute ecstasy, and I’ve worked at the club ever since. I also did go to Hitchin after Spurs, I did but I didn’t as what happened was that the former Spurs player Paul Price was playing for Hitchin, and he wanted to get the managers job. So to get the managers job he asked me to do him a favour and to play in one or two games. So I went and played in a game and I played really well, and then they decided that they’d give me and Paul the joint managers job but I’d had no experience of managing or coaching or anything at the time. So I went into Hitchin because of Paul really not because of me, as it wasn’t really my ambition at that stage. So I sort of went in and helped Paul as player-manager, and I would sort of bring myself off as it gave me an excuse not to play, so I would go home with 20 minutes to play when it was all slowed down. That lasted a while and then years down the line I went and managed one or two non-League clubs but I didn’t particularly enjoy it, and if I was living my life over I wouldn’t work at that level and I would stay at helping young players. I worked for Spurs for ten years in the academy and I would have stayed working there, because I was very successful. When I worked for Crystal Palace for instance I worked with Victor Moses, Nathaniel Clyne, Sean Scannell and Wilfried Zaha, and we got about 17 young players through into the first team over a three year period. So I enjoyed working at that level, one because it was part-time and it wasn’t 24/7 which management is, so if I was living it again I would stay working at academy level.

What was your second spell at Spurs like?

Micky: Even though I got a very bad tackle and injury and had two operations on it which I never really recovered from, I was playing but I was probably only 75% fit. And after the operations I never got back to 100% peak of fitness, and obviously with age the injuries take longer to heal, so by the age of 35 when Ossie left, he had  involved me from the start from some games and then rested me as a sub in others. Then when Ossie left and Gerry came in I knew that that was curtains for my career, and that was fair enough because I’m not going to say to a manager build your team around me I’m 35, but yeah it was fantastic and I loved every minute of it. The club had changed from my earlier days, in fact it had become very different so there was a lot of friction around, and that was not what I’d sort of been used to at Spurs because the club was never in that place when I was there as a youngster, not that I would have noticed it. But obviously when I came back at 33 the club had changed in many respects or was going through a very different era.

Other than the various cup campaigns that you went on with Spurs could you share with me some of your other favourite memories of your time at the club, or ones which particularly stand out?

Micky: The one at Liverpool stands out, when we hadn’t won at Anfield for 73 years and at some point, we must do, but 73 years is such a long time but I played a part in the goal that won the game. I was very unfortunate that I had hit an unbelievable volley into the top corner but somehow Bruce Grobbelaar had sprung and saved it, and as it dropped Garth Crooks had tapped it in. Then I remember the final celebration afterwards and it was just incredible to go 73 years without a win at a stadium against a certain opposition, and then you’re part of the team that breaks that spell or whatever it is and you’re part of the goal that did it, so that is just an incredible memory, and I absolutely loved it. There are so many wonderful memories that you have at Spurs, that you have in any football career and generally the best memories are not necessarily on the pitch, one of my favourite memories was rejoining them. I had a sponsored car when I played at Swindon and obviously when I left I didn’t have a car, but I would have walked the length of the M4 and the length of the M25 and A10 to get to Spurs. So that was one of the best moments of my career, but you can’t replace scoring big goals in semi-finals etc, but walking up the tunnel I don’t think that there is a greater feeling. And one of the sadnesses that I always feel about football is that the fans of a football club sort of unconditionally love a football club without any reason to. And when people say oh Micky you’re so in love with Spurs yes of course I am, but I do it from a point of being educated how great this club is, and I’ve done the things that every fan dreams of doing. I’ve walked down the tunnel and I’ve come onto the pitch in front of 40,000 fans to glory glory, and felt the goosebumps run through me as I’ve walked up onto the pitch, and it’s echoing round glory glory Tottenham Hotspur. I’ve felt these things and I’ve scored winning goals and felt the elation of the fans and felt the excitement and adulation of the fans, and them also singing my name one Micky Hazard when you’ve just scored a winning goal. So I’ve felt all of that and so my love for the club is born out by achievement within the club, and seeing from the inside just how incredible this football club is.

So my admiration for fans who have the same devotion to Spurs as I have is something that I admire so much, because they do it without doing the things that I did that make me love the football club, because I’ve seen and done it all there. So it’s easy for me to say yeah I love this football club because I’ve experienced the fans singing my name and I’ve experienced walking up the tunnel to glory glory, and I’ve experienced lots and lots of many good things off the football pitch. For instance one of the greatest memories that I’ve got and totally unexpected, is that  on February of the fifth of this year which is my birthday, I went to White Hart Lane and I was working at the club as there was a game on that day. I got told to go down to the pitch at half-time for an interview which is what I do and have done on numerous occasions, so it was nothing unusual. And then when I walked out onto the pitch there’s a presentation made to me by the football club of a Spurs shirt with Hazard 60 on the back as it’s my 60th birthday, so I mean wow what football club does that? So I’ve been a player there for not how many years and then on my 60th birthday I get presented on the pitch and the fans inside the stadium are singing happy birthday. So memories that you’d pay millions for and that’s without the football memories, so these fans don’t get to experience being given a shirt on the football pitch for their birthday, not like I did. So there’s so many things that enables me to love the football club and these guys unconditionally love this football club you know, and that’s incredible, incredible! So yeah there’s so many wonderful things that I could sit and talk about all night long, and it’s wonderful.

What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?

Micky: On the whole it was the best time but there was bad times like when you’re not in the team, so it wasn’t all hunky dory, but ultimately it’s not anybody’s else’s fault but your own. And not more so than in my case because I was one of the most gifted players at the football club, so if I’m not in the team then that’s my fault, it’s not the managers fault, it’s my fault. So it’s up to me to perform to a level that makes sure that I don’t get out of the team, so when you’re not in the team or you’re injured or you’ve had an operation, they are for sure bad times. You can get a bit down about it, but I always used to cling to the fact that I’m very gifted and I’m very talented and one day the manager will want me again, because he won’t be able to do without me, and that’s how I used to hang in there when the going was tough. I just used to tell myself that he’ll want me soon, as I was that sort of very talented footballer, and more often than not sort of nine or ten games later he’d pick me. Operations and injuries were the worst ones and you’re sitting in the stadium and watching the team, and there’s nothing you can do to help them or be part of it, because if they win six-nil and everyone’s celebrating you never feel part of it when you celebrate, because you’re injured. So yeah there were times like that time at Tottenham but overall I would give my time at Tottenham a ten out of ten. I once read a comment and I thought that it was one of the most wonderful comments that I’ve ever heard and it said that somewhere, somehow and sometime I found myself in a place I’d never been before, I found myself somewhere that I didn’t know, I didn’t know where I was. And I found myself looking around me and thinking this is my home and I get emotional because I’ve spent 40 years of my life at Spurs, but as I looked around it felt like my home, and in the end it became my home. And I don’t think that I can sum it up in a better way, and even though I’ve sort of channeled the words to my way of thinking, they are not 100% my words. 

That for me is now what I feel about Tottenham Hotspur football club, remembering that I’m from Sunderland and how did a young backstreet boy from Sunderland find himself in this place somewhere, somehow and sometime? And I did but was I lost? Yes I was lost and homesick, so that sums up my time at Spurs absolutely to perfection, and it’s still my home, and the Spurs family is my family. 

You served Spurs as an academy coach for a number of years. What was that experience like for you?

Micky: I loved it and I worked with some of the most talented youngsters that I care to imagine, and I was very blessed and obviously I preached the Tottenham way because it was my way. So any youngster that worked with me they would tell you that if you wanted to put it in row Z then you weren’t on my team! I wanted you to put it on the floor, and I wanted fast flowing, creative flair football which was the Tottenham way. When the goalkeeper had got the ball I had banned my goalkeeper from kicking the ball out, and one of the best compliments that I ever got was when we were playing Southampton and he (their coach) said wow, just wow. You’re goalkeeper has not kicked the ball out once today and you’re team are playing unbelievable football. And that’s a big compliment because I always believe that if I go over to the Premier League for instance or if I go over to Hackney Marshes and Pep Guardiola’s team is playing there, I would be able to pick out Pep Guardiola’s team by his style of play and the way the team plays. I wanted people to say the same thing about me, and the director of the academy came to me one day and said why are you not allowing your goalkeeper to kick the ball out? Because he said that he needs practice at kicking the ball as well he said. So I explained to him that he can practice goal kicks and kicking it out of his hands everyday of the week, but match play is where you learn as an outfield player, so when the keeper kicks it out he bypasses all the education of all of my defenders, and he bypasses all the education of all of my midfielders. I want to teach them how to make an angle for the goalkeeper so that it can be spread, and I want to teach my centre backs how to receive the ball off the goalkeeper, but also to make an angle for when the fullbacks got in. I want my midfielders to be able to split between two defenders and get the ball threaded between them, so by allowing him to kick it out it restricts the amount of coaching that I give the youngsters. So that’s why I don’t allow him to kick it out, and he said you’ve just had an unbelievable compliment of the opposing teams manager, so I guessed what he would have said, because it was that particular day. However, I never ever allowed my goalkeeper, and you have to remember at the age of 13/14 the youngsters aren’t very powerful to throw the ball out.

So often they would throw the ball out and it would lead to a goal, and the one thing that you can’t do when you’re coaching a youngster and when you’re telling him not to kick a ball out, is when he throws it straight to the centre forward and give him a telling off, because it’s not his fault, it’s your fault. What you have to do in that instance is educate them and say listen don’t try and throw it where the defenders are. Work out where the best angle is and the one in the most space, so you’re coaching the goalkeeper within that and so I never apologise for not allowing him to kick it out, as I think that it was better for him and his education, and all of the outfield players’ education. I loved it!

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Micky: From a playing perspective it would have to be the UEFA Cup final and from a team perspective the UEFA Cup semi-final, and from an individual perspective it would be that my children and grandchildren are ardent Spurs fans. My sons’ go home and away and my grandchildren have all been to games, so that fills me with pride that the legacy that I’m going to leave behind is one the Spurs player I was and the Spurs coach I was and the amount of work that I did for the club. But I’m also going to leave a legacy that the Hazard family throughout the generations will be ardent Spurs fans who will follow and support their club through thick and thin. From a Tottenham Hotspur football club perspective I think that’s a pretty good legacy to leave behind and it’s something that I’m incredibly proud of. Sometimes I’ve seen my sons’ on the TV at a Spurs away game and I can see them in the crowd singing and that brings a tear to my eye, because that’s what I would have wanted and wished for, so that would be my greatest thrill I think.

Who was the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with? 

Micky: Well I’ve shared it with Ossie Ardiles and Glenn Hoddle and so I couldn’t put anyone else above them two. I’ve obviously played on a pitch with Johan Cruyff and he was my all time hero, but I’m talking about people who I’ve played with. So I couldn’t put anyone above Hoddle and Ardiles as I thought that they were two very different players, but unbelievable players in their own way. I think that Glenn was probably the best English footballer I’ve ever seen, certainly the most gifted and I’ve never seen anything that he couldn’t do. Ossie was a genius in a different way, and he read the game so well and was three or four steps ahead of everyone, and he was a wonderful footballer. So yeah I couldn’t put anybody above them two.

Who was the toughest player that you ever came up against?

Micky: Ossie Ardiles when I played for Chelsea. I came up against Ossie Ardiles and I’d scored two at White Hart Lane the previous year for Chelsea to win three-one and then I came up against Ossie Ardiles, and I was sitting in the dressing room thinking Ossie’s got such a great brain, he’s going to know everything that I do, so I’m going to change my game today. Little did I know Ossie was sitting in the other room saying Micky’s a clever footballer and he’s not going to play his normal way, he’s going to change his game because he knows that I’m going to be waiting if he doesn’t. But he was waiting somewhere else where I went! So yeah he was very difficult, very quick, very sharp and very quick thinking, so he was always ready for anything that I tried, and so he was just a super player.

Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?

Micky: I was close to quite a lot of them although they might not have been as close to me, but I felt as close to them. Ossie was obviously my closest friend and he was my room partner, but I was very close to Ricky Villa and I get on great with all the boys, and I’ve got no problems with any one of them as they are all nice guys. When you watch football you can see someone as flash or arrogant or this or that by the way that they play football, but that’s not the case off the pitch, or in general certainly in my time. The vast majority of the players that I came across are lovely guys, and still are. 

What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?

Micky: I would say work hard, but don’t just work hard work on particular things that would improve you as a player. Don’t spend all of your time keeping the ball up as that won’t improve you as a player, instead work on things that are going to improve you as a player, and the next comment I’m going to make I got off Glenn Hoddle. Don’t do the same thing twice because when you get to the top you do it once, and the next time the best players are waiting for it to happen. So mix it up and vary your game and do something different, do a step over once and next time do a double step over so you fool them, or drop your shoulder one way then drop it the other way and do a turn this way. Always do something different because top class opponents will find it hard to read which one you’re going to do.

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?

Micky: My only club. I had great times elsewhere but nothing will ever touch Spurs, listen you can’t help who you fall in love with it’s as simple as, and it’s the same in football. You can’t help who you support as it’s in your blood and it’s in your soul, I don’t make any apologies for the fact that Spurs is my club and I don’t apologise for the fact that my sons’ are Spurs fans. It’s something that controls you rather than you control it, and it’s something that’s in your blood.