Laste Dombaxe was a central midfielder during his time at Spurs as an Academy player. Born in Luanda in Angola, but brought up in London where he attended Winchmore School, Laste Dombaxe had been in Arsenal’s Academy prior to joining Spurs, and he spent a long period of time at Spurs after joining them in the 2000s, before leaving the club at the end of the 2013/14 season at the age of 19, the same season that he had made the bench for the Spurs first team in the UEFA Europa League (Laste made two appearances for Spurs’ first team in friendlies). The 25 year old has since played for the likes of East Grinstead, Maldon & Tipree and Haringey Borough, the club that he currently plays for. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of interviewing Laste about his time at Spurs.
What are your earliest footballing memories?
Laste: That would probably be signing for Tottenham, because I was at Arsenal and then I signed for Tottenham on the same day that I had left Arsenal. So that would be the earliest memory.
What was it like to join Spurs from Arsenal, and were there many differences between the two clubs at the time?
Laste: To be fair there wasn’t much difference at the time but the only difference that I can think of was that when I came I think that I fitted in straight away, whereas when I was at Arsenal it kind of took me a while. But when I came to Tottenham I I fitted in straight away and so that was my personal experience.
What are your earliest memories of your time at Spurs and how did you come about joining the club?
Laste: So I used to play for a team called Broadwater Farm which was in Tottenham, and from there there was a guy who was the owner of the centre. He had lots of connections from different clubs, and so I was there from about under 9’s and then I trained with them for about two or three years, and then he sent me to Arsenal. But then afterwards when I left Arsenal as they didn’t sign me on he sent me to Tottenham and I signed straight away. My earliest memory at Spurs was when it actually hit me when I was 15 and I would probably say that was my actual earliest memory, as in I was training with the youth team and thinking yeah ok I’m doing something good here.
Did you have any footballing heroes/inspirations and if so who were they?
Laste: It would have to have been Ronaldinho and Kaka, and so yeah it would have been those two.
Could you describe to me what type of player you were and what positions you played in during your time at Spurs?
Laste: So in the beginning I started as a striker and then I moved down to number ten, and I trained hard and I’m always running and trying to get the ball back, and always trying to get on the ball. So then I thought to myself because I do that then I might as well become a midfielder, as I used to like running around and getting the ball and making tackles and all of that. So then I became a midfielder as I liked to be on the ball and being a striker you don’t really get to touch the ball often, and I like to get on the ball and make passes, and create chances and also tackle. So that’s what I am about on the pitch.
Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?
Laste: So in terms of coaches there were three coaches, and they were Brad, another coach called Ose and also John McDermott. Those three were I would say my main in terms of influences. If we’re talking football and teammates then it would have to be Kevin Stewart and Nabil Bentaleb, as those two really pushed me and me and them two always used to have competitions, and we always used to push each other.
Were there any players at Spurs who you would watch closely to try and improve your game or look to learn from?
Laste: Yes I did, and I used to look at Luka Modric and also Etienne Capoue when they were there.
Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the various Tottenham youth teams?
Laste: I remember when we played West Ham at their stadium in the reserves, and we were losing 2-0 at half-time and then Tim Sherwood spoke to us and was basically saying that we weren’t doing well and weren’t running around enough. But the game itself was so tense that it was a good game, but then we just came out in the second half and won 4-2 but I think that the game itself was one of my best memories, and personally I don’t think that I can forget that game. I also traveled with the first team and I was on the bench in the Europa League, but also just after I had turned 15 I got called into the office a couple of months after and I got told that I was getting my scholarship in October. Usually people get the scholarship in like April or March, but I got my scholarship in October which was way earlier than people get it, so that was probably my best earliest memory at the club.
What was your time at the Lilywhites like on the whole?
Laste: I wouldn’t change anything as it was great and the whole club itself and the players and coaches were great, and it was just a fun experience. I could not say a bad word about it.
What prompted you to leave Spurs and could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites (so far)?
Laste: To be fair it was hard because I was at Spurs for so long and I played with the first team and was on the bench for the first team. But then there was a change of manager but when AVB was there I was training with the first team everyday, and I was on the bench in the Europa League. So in my head I was thinking that I’m a step closer to actually becoming a first team player, and so I spoke to AVB and he said that within three months if you carry on the way you’re playing then you will strictly be with the first team, and you will move into the first team changing rooms. I carried on doing what I was doing but then he got sacked and then Tim Sherwood became the manager and then from there it went downhill to be fair, and so I don’t know why it went downhill but it just went downhill. I don’t know if Tim Sherwood didn’t like me as a player or that he thought someone else was better, but yeah it was just weird that I was this close with AVB and then a change of manager happened, but I guess that it happens in football but that’s my experience. Then after that I went to Millwall and I went to Watford on trial and both of them said that they wanted to sign me but it didn’t happen. After that I went to a club in Sweden for six months called Östersunds before coming back and going into non-League. That’s when I went to a team called Hadley Town and the manager was Micky Hazard and I played with him for a while and I liked him as a coach and he liked me as a player, and so I played with him for a while. Then I made the step up to East Grinstead and then Hayes & Yeading, and then Maldon & Tiptree for about two or three years, and I liked Maldon to be fair and that is a good club and we beat Leyton Orient in the FA Cup. But now I’m currently at Haringey.
What has been the greatest moment of your footballing career so far?
Laste: I think that it would be being on the bench for the Spurs first team in the Europa League. And it’s funny because I was about to come on literally within 13 minutes of the game starting, because Moussa Dembele got injured because he got a knock, and then AVB called me to go and get warmed up. So I was warming up and I was nervous but nervous in a good way as I was thinking that I’m going to make my professional debut. So I’m warming up and I was thinking please Dembele stay down or come off so I can make my debut, and then AVB called me back and I was just talking to him but then after that Dembele was ok so I went back and sat down. So I think that was my best experience.
Who has been the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with?
Laste: That’s a very, very hard question but I would probably have to say either Gareth Bale or Luka Modric.
Who has been the toughest player that you have come up against?
Laste: That would be Kingsley Coman of Bayern Munich when we played PSG in the NextGen Series and he had me running around to be fair, even though we won the game.
Were there any players at Spurs who you were particularly close to?
Laste: There were many to be fair but I would say that the two main ones were Nabil Bentaleb and Kevin Stewart. We were like the trio.
What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to break into the first team?
Laste: I would just say to keep your head down and don’t get influenced by anyone, and also eat right and drink right and just stay out of trouble. Listen to the coaches and also do extras, and that’s the one thing that I would say to the youngsters, but before it was different because when we wanted to do extras some of the coaches would say no don’t do this as you’ve done enough, but the more extras you do the better you become. So I would say work hard doing what you’re doing but at the same time also do extras.
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?
Laste: 100%. They’ll always be close to my heart as I spent over a decade at Spurs and my time there was a great experience, and I loved every second of it.