(this photograph is from Tottenham Hotspur FC)
I haven’t done one of these articles for a very long time now, but with the current lockdown and being unable to watch the Spurs under 18’s and under 23 side, I thought that I would return to writing this series of pieces. An occasional series where I will look back on former Spurs Academy players from the last decade, but also look at where are they now, and how they are doing at their current clubs (I,will look at some more recent Spurs players first, before going further back in the decade later on). The first ex-Spurs player that I will be looking at is the very talented Samuel Shashoua, who has been making a really good impact on LaLiga SmartBank side (Second Division) CD Tenerife of late. Still only 21 years of age, Samuel left Spurs permanently in the August of 2019 after spending the previous 2018/19 season on loan at Spanish Third Division side Atlético Baleares. A winger who is comfortable at operating on either flank, Shashoua joined Spurs full-time in 2015 (he made his competitive debut for the clubs under 18 side during the previous season) and he quickly became an important player in the side, enjoying a good 2015/16 season. The following season Shashoua became an integral part of the side, scoring and creating a great number of goals for the under 18 side, he also played up for the under 23’s on occasions. However, the highlight of that season for him, was being included on the bench for the first team against Leicester City in the Premier League towards the end of that season, and while he wasn’t brought on in that game it went to show just how highly rated he was by the club. Shashoua spent the next season (2017/18) playing primarily for the under 23 side (his first season as a professional at Spurs) while also featuring for our under 19 side in the UEFA Youth League. While he did have some issues with injury, Samuel stepped up to under 23 football with ease, and he put in some really strong performances over the course of the season, scoring some well taken goals in the process.
After one goal from one competitive appearance for Samuel during the 2018/19 season for Spurs’ under 23 side, the versatile forward went straight out on loan shortly after that game to Spanish Third Division side Atlético Baleares. He enjoyed a fantastic season in Mallorca with Atlético, scoring six goals from out wide and also registering a number of assists, as he played a big part in helping them to qualify for the playoffs, which they were unfortunately knocked out of at the last hurdle. Shashoua’s consistently excellent performances saw him attract attention from a number of Spanish clubs, and in the summer of 2019 he departed Spurs permanently to join LaLiga SmartBank side CD Tenerife. However, injuries stopped him from making his competitive debut for Tenerife during the 2019/20 season, and he was loaned back out to Atlético Baleares who had once again qualified for the playoffs. He actually got his first competitive minutes of the season in the March of 2020, when he came off the bench to feature for Atlético Baleares in a league game against UD Ibiza, soon before their season was stopped. Samuel did feature for Atlético in the playoffs against FC Cartagena, and he was without doubt their best player in that playoff game, which finished 0-0. However, to make what must have been a very difficult season with injury worse for Samuel, he unfortunately missed a crucial penalty kick after the end of extra time, which meant that Atlético didn’t win promotion to LaLiga SmartBank from that particular game. Atlético did have a second go to have a chance to possibly win promotion, but they lost 1-0 to UE Cornellà, although Samuel did put in a good performance during his 70 minutes on the pitch. So from the great disappointment of those games in the Third Division playoffs, as well as the injury troubles that he had during that season, Samuel ended up returning to Tenerife for pre-season for the start of the current 2020/21 season.
The former Spurs Academy player put in a series of impressive performances in pre-season for the club from the Canary Islands. Shashoua then patiently waited to make his mark on the side in competitive competition, and he ended up making his competitive debut for them in a LaLiga SmartBank game against Alcorćon as a substitute in September. A number of appearances off the bench followed for the former England youth international, before he got his first start for Tenerife against Espanyol in October. Since starting that game he has started six games for former Real Madrid player Luis Miguel Ramis’s side, as well as getting a good number of minutes in most of the games which he hasn’t started. From 17 competitive appearances for Tenerife this season Shashoua has scored three goals, he has also been somewhat of a creative force within the side, creating a number of fine chances for his teammates. I have watched virtually all of Shashoua’s games for Tenerife so far this season, and as you’ll all know I was a really big fan of him when he was coming up the ranks at Spurs. A player who is excellent technically speaking, the Londoner has also always had a phenomenal work rate, just like his younger brother Armando who currently plays for Atlético Baleares. He was consistently excellent at youth level for Spurs, and he was part of a very talented age group at the club. It’s really great to see him playing at a high level now, and also showing that quality and consistency too. So far this season for Tenerife Samuel has been playing quite a free attacking role and he has really showed his versatility during the first half of the season. He has played out on the right flank and the left (he is good with both feet, although he is right footed), and also as a number ten. He has liked to come inside off of either foot, and look to weave his way towards the edge of the penalty area or just inside the box, where he has always been so potent from.
All three of Samuel’s goals this season have come as a result of him coming inside from the flanks and dribbling with the ball before looking to test the keeper and try and find the far corner of the goal, which as I say he has managed to do on three occasions so far this season. From watching a great number of Tenerife games this season it is clear that Samuel is very confident in himself on the pitch, and he’s playing with a smile on his face as well. He’s always been a very intelligent and mature player for his age, with a great footballing brain, but Tenerife’s number 17 has improved a lot I feel even from that great first season with Atlético Baleares. He seems to have got quicker and even more confident, and with his excellent low centre of gravity and many clever twists and turns he has really made life difficult on occasions for some of the opposing defensive players that are playing in his league. Now a big creative outlet in this Tenerife side despite being one of the youngest current first team players, Samuel has fitted in and adapted very well to the Tenerife system, and after a bit of a difficult start to the league season, he has helped them to get some good points on the board of late, in what is quite a low scoring league. Strong performances against the likes of FC Cartagena, CD Castellón and Albacete of late will have made him even more popular with the Tenerife supporters who seem to really like him. The unpredictable nature of his game combined with his superb work rate and intelligent pressing makes him a great team player for the team, but apart from the important goals that he’s scored then you look at the creativity that he has produced on the field. His crosses into the box for the likes of forward Fran Sol to latch onto have been very good on occasions, and his understanding with his teammates on the pitch, such as right back and Anthony Georgiou’s old Levante teammate Shaq Moore has been very good, and as I say he has just fitted in really well to the team.
Arguably already one of Tenerife’s most creative players, he has forced his way into the team of late and that great talent of his has really shone through. Such a cool player under pressure, he has shown at just 21 that he can handle the demands and the physicality of LaLiga SmartBank, and he’s only going to get better and better, and I’ve no doubts whatsoever that he will play in the LaLiga Santander in the future. Currently injured at the moment, the player who helped Tenerife to reach the Copa del Rey Round of 32 unfortunately missed out on playing in their narrow defeat to LaLiga side Villarreal, a game that he could potentially have made a real difference in. When he does return to playing (hopefully very soon!) I would expect him to get more and more starts for Tenerife, and help them to climb further up the table (they are currently eight points off the playoff places), and also improve even further as a player. What an absolute joy and a pleasure he was to watch at Spurs, and still watch now as he develops more as a player. I’m sure he is extremely proud of how well he has bounced back from the difficulties of last season. And I for one would absolutely love to see him return to Spurs one day in the future. But if not, then I have no doubts whatsoever that when given the chance (hopefully with Tenerife) to step up to play in one of the major European leagues, that he will take that opportunity with both hands, and show his quality and footballing magic at the very highest level.