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

Still in with a good chance of finishing as runners up in the PL2 Division One, Wayne Burnett’s Spurs under 23 side enter Sunday’s (the game at Hotspur Way starts at 13:00pm and is being shown live on Chelsea’s 5th Stand App and official website) London derby with Chelsea in very good form. Last Monday Spurs beat Leicester City 3-1, while Chelsea beat Southampton by the same score line. Chelsea are a very good team, and in the lively reverse fixture between Spurs and Chelsea earlier in the season, Chelsea came back from two goals down to win 3-2. Adventurous full-back/winger Valentino Livramento has great pace and skill, and he is a player who will go on many forward runs down Spurs’ left flank, if he does play tomorrow. The west London club who sit in fourth place in the league (two points behind us), are a very technical side and their passing game is very good. Midfielder Lewis Bate has great vision for a pass from midfield, while the skill of Marcel Lewis from out wide could cause Spurs problems, as could tall and physical centre-forward George Nunn. However, Spurs will go into this game in great confidence having enjoyed a great season so far, and they will also be looking to make up for giving away a two goal lead in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. Spurs will be without first year Academy player and centre-forward Dane Scarlett, after he picked up an injury in the Spurs under 18’s FA Youth Cup game with West Brom earlier in the week, while I believe that George Marsh will miss out again through suspension. I’m really looking forward to watching tomorrow’s game as it promises to be a really interesting one. And I would like to wish the Spurs lads all the very best of luck for the match.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Oluwayemi, Lavinier, Lyons-Foster, Omole, Cirkin, Thorpe, Bowden (c), Bennett, Devine, Markanday, Etete.

Subs from: Kurylowicz, Skinner, John, Pedder, Richards.

Injured/unavailable: George Marsh (suspended), Malachi Fagan-Walcott (injured), Dane Scarlett (injured).

Doubtful: Thimothee Lo-Tutala (injured).

Previous meeting: Spurs 2-3.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: Valentino Livramento (18) played well in the reverse fixture earlier on in the season, and he was also excellent against Spurs’ under 18 side during the previous season. An intelligent player with great pace, Livramento loves to take players on and go on good forward runs from deep, as a right-back.

My interview with former Spurs player Glenn Poole:

Barking born ex-footballer Glenn Poole was a talented and determined goalscoring midfield player who would enjoy a very long career in the game. Poole joined Spurs as a 12 year old and he stayed at the club until he was 18, and during that time he played mainly for the Spurs youth teams in the South East Counties League, but he also did play for the reserves on occasions. A youth player at Spurs during the 1990s, Glenn Poole was part of a talented Spurs age group of which included Ledley King and Peter Crouch. After leaving Spurs in the late 1990s Glenn Poole played for a number of clubs, of which includes Yeovil Town, Brentford, AFC Wimbledon and Billericay Town. Now retired from the game, Glenn runs his own soccer school –  the Glenn Poole Soccer Academy. I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of talking to Glenn about his time at Spurs, which was over 20 years ago. 

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Glenn: I remember playing my very first game for a team called Crystal Boys, and I remember playing over at a college in Redbridge. We won 4-2 and I scored two goals, and I can remember the kit and my number which was 11, and that was fitting as that’s what I ended up wearing at Brentford. So that was my first sort of football memory which was when I was about six years old.

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

Glenn: My first memory at Spurs was actually going to watch an FA Floodlit quarter-final against Norwich, and we (my mum and dad) just went into the ground (White Hart Lane) and enquired about a soccer school which is like what I do now, and it was a Tottenham in the community one. They told us where the venues were and asked me what my name was and I obviously said Glenn Poole, and they said that that name rings a bell, and they elaborated on it before saying that they’d been watching me. So they asked me if I wanted to train with them until the end of the season and just take it from there, and that’s what I did and luckily at the end of that season I got signed on for a year and it just progressed from there. I remember going into the ball court up at the old stadium and just training with the other players, and being a Tottenham fan as well it was just unbelievable. And never did I think that I’d end up representing the club as an apprentice.

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

Glenn: When I was young Ryan Giggs was somebody who I looked up to, but from a Tottenham point of view I’m named after Glenn Hoddle and so he was a big inspiration. I saw one of his last games for Spurs against Oxford United, when he dummied Peter Hucker and just slotted it in the goal, and I remember going to that game. We went to two games in that week, and we went to a game against Charlton (my first ever game) just before the FA Cup final in 1987 and we won 1-0, and then my dad took us to a game again the next week as well, and we saw them win 3-1. So Glenn Hoddle was a big influence on me and watching videos of him he was just unbelievable, and he was ahead of his time and just such a gifted footballer. Then growing up and as I was getting older and developing in the game and playing for Tottenham as an apprentice, my favourite player was David Beckham. I totally related to his game as I wasn’t the fastest wide player and I relied on my technique and my crossing ability, rather than getting the ball and dribbling past five players and then crossing a ball. So David Beckham was kind of like myself, as he could play out wide or play as a central midfielder as well, and so he was a big inspiration for me growing up. For me one thing that stood out with him was his work rate and it was unbelievable, and he was also a dead ball specialist and I used to focus on them as well.

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

Glenn: When I first went to Spurs I actually started off as a left-back, as that was where I played for my Sunday team, district team and school team. I went there essentially as a left-back but then I remember playing a game for an under 15/16 side against a full Wingate & Finchley team (first team). I remember that Bobby Arber sort of called me over and gave me a shirt, and I looked and it was number ten and I thought ok. So he played me in central midfield against a men’s team and I was quite small at that time, but at the end of the game Bobby called my dad over and asked him how tall did he reckon I would grow and how tall are his grandparents, because what he did tonight was fantastic. What he said that he really loved was that the goalkeeper Gavin had the ball between his hands, and I went between the two centre halves to get the ball after Gavin had rolled it out. Bobby was a big believer in me and he was hard at times with me, and I wasn’t a very strong tackler and I wasn’t as physically imposing as some of the other lads, and so he was only hard at times with me looking back, because he rated me. He tried to convert me into a central midfielder but I did play out wide a little bit, and I played out wide in the FA Youth Cup games when I came on, but the majority of the time I was playing in central midfield.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Glenn: We had some great coaches and Colin Reid was one of the first coaches that I ever had at Spurs, and Colin was technically a fantastic coach and he’s still doing wonders with his coaching career now. Des Bulpin was the youth team manager at the time and he was fantastic with me and he was very, very welcoming to me. Bobby Arber was one who really, really believed in me and like I said he was hard with me at times, and I remember once we were doing a football session and he tackled me really hard, and so I was a bit embarrassed and a bit confused as to why. But then looking back at it now he was doing it to try and toughen me up, because ability wise I was confident in what I could do, but it was just physicality that sort of held me back a little bit. I think that Bobby was trying to get that nasty streak out of me, and eventually it does come out of you as a player when you get older but Bobby was a big inspiration to me. He always showed faith in me, even when I’d been officially released, and I remember that we went to Holland for a postseason tour and I literally hadn’t played all season, and then he said that I was going to play. And I did play for most of the tournament and I did so well, and I remember we played against Celtic and I did so well and we beat Celtic. I also think that we beat Ajax but I definitely remember that we beat Celtic and afterwards one of the Celtic coaches asked Bobby who I was, as I had played quite well. Then at the end of the tournament Bobby said to me in front of all of the squad that I know that you’ve been released but you’re coming back in pre-season. So I was like ok, as I had already been released and went to the exit trials up at Lilleshall, and also had clubs messaging me to see if I’d like to go on trial.

So I thought this was great and so I’d put other clubs like Yeovil off and also Barnet, as I was thinking that I was going back to Spurs. But Bobby Arber was a big, big influence on me and he did believe in me, so I was grateful for that.

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

Glenn: Any chance to watch the first team was great, and as I say I was a Spurs fan and so I was there watching great players, the same players that I had pictures up on my wall of. Jurgen Klinsmann was a massive hero of mine from being at Spurs the first time, and then when he came back there I was cleaning his boots and picking his kit up. David Ginola when I used to watch him was just unbelievable as a player, and also an unbelievable bloke as he dropped us off at the train station a few times. I remember when there was a couple of us on first team duty, and David Ginola was out there practicing free-kicks and then after we had collected all the balls, we were then out there practicing free-kicks as well. And he stayed out with us for another half an hour watching us, and I remember that he said to me that I had fantastic technique, and so that for me was just unbelievable. So David Ginola was one, and watching him in that season in his prime, was incredible. I also remember that at at times I would help out in drills with Rory Allen and Stephen Clemence with Chris Hughton, and I was in goal and I loved it, and I was diving around wearing big Pat Jennings’ gloves. But in terms of influences Stephen Clemence was one, and I remember that when I came on to make my Spurs reserve team debut, Stephen came off. And he gave me a big cuddle as he was going off, and he said go and enjoy it and you’ve got a few extra quid, as you used to get a little bit extra for making a reserve team appearance. Justin Edinburgh was quality as well with us and he actually ended up being my manager at Grays and he was always good with me, and also Les Ferdinand and Ruel Fox and Chris Armstrong were all good lads. When you used to go into the changing room they’d give you a bit of banter and you’d walk in all shy but they’d try and encourage you. 

As a Spurs fan those memories at Spurs are something that I will never ever forget, regardless of went on in my career.

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

Glenn: I mean you never want to leave but it’s just one of those things, and as I say I went back that summer for pre-season as Bobby had told me to come back, and so I followed the instructions and came back. I was there for two weeks and then Peter Suddaby asked me to come into his office and he said what are you doing here? I was like well Bobby’s told me to come back, but basically he said well Bobby’s not in charge, I am. But I think that Bobby was in charge of the reserve team the year before, when there was a bit of a structure change and it was because of him that I got involved with the reserve team. So I said to Peter Suddaby that’s fine and I’ll go then, and that was when they signed two Italian players, for what they maybe could have offered me, but I ended up leaving. I had spoken to Yeovil and even though I had put them off a little bit they ended up offering me a three year deal, and at the time I was playing some games for Witham Town in the Ryman League just to get games and a bit of money. Anyway a guy had spoken to John Moncur Senior at Spurs, and he said that he was the best technical player that we’ve had at Spurs for a long time, but physically he’s not up to it yet. So anyway I ended up signing for Yeovil for three years when they were in the Conference, and I scored on my debut against Hereford, but I was in and out there for two and a half years really. I went out on loan to Bath City and played one game there before getting injured, and then I came back to Essex to play for Ford United which is now Redbridge. I moved back home when I was 20 and moved into part-time football, and I was working in a hospital when I was playing for Ford United, and thats when my career sort of really picked up motion, and that was when a guy called Craig Edwards (manager of Cheshunt) came in and I just took off. 

The work rate that Craig Edwards instilled in me was just unbelievable, and it was ironic because in his first game he left me out. But then I came in and I scored 22 goals from left-midfield in my first year, and then 30 from left-midfield in the second season, and then the season after that I ended up being transferred to Thurrock. At the end of that season I had another 25 goals before moving to Grays Athletic, who had just been promoted to the Conference, but they were full-time. Obviously being back in full-time football was what I’d always wanted and I didn’t want to be working in a hospital for the rest of my life with all due respect. My career then took off in a different way and I finished top goalscorer in my first year and we came third in the Conference and then lost in the play-offs semi-finals, but we actually won the FA Trophy and I scored in the final. There were a couple of of Football League clubs who came in for me at the end of that season but I ended up staying at Grays, and our manager went to Stevenage and wanted to take a few of us with him, but nothing ever materialised. I then ended up going on loan to Rochdale in League Two for about six weeks and at that point I’d never played in the Football League, and I thought I’ve got a chance to play in the Football League and even if I play one game you can’t take that away from me. So I went up there and played six games but I didn’t do great to be honest and it was a bit bizarre, I was also the only southerner in a northern squad, so I didn’t really settle there to be honest. But they actually wanted to sign me and they offered me a one year deal, and so I’d spoken to Dagenham and Barnet and then Brentford phoned me and the assistant manager had seen me playing in the FA Trophy when I was playing centre-midfield, and it was one of the best games that I’ve ever had. So he’d said to Terry Butcher that we’ve got to get him in, and they offered me a better deal and a bigger signing on fee, and so that’s where I ended up signing.

I signed at Brentford for two years and for 18 months of those two years it was phenomenal and in my first year again I finished top goalscorer from left-midfield. That summer I had interest from some League One clubs such as MK Dons and Leyton Orient and I even read that Leeds were looking at me but nothing ever came of it and my agent never mentioned it, but to be honest I wanted to stay unless a club was offering me unbelievable money. So I said to the Brentford manager that I wanted to stay, and he said give it a little bit of time after the season starts as I’m trying to build a team that will win the league, and then we can talk about a new deal. So I scored seven goals after 21 games and then I found that I wasn’t in the team or the squad at times which was bizarre, but that’s football. I then left Brentford and went back to Grays for a while but that wasn’t the best experience as we were struggling, and I then signed for AFC Wimbledon which is a fantastic club but it was just the wrong time for me as my heart wasn’t in it at the time. I then went to Barnet with Mark Stimson but he then got the sack and Paul Fairclough came in and said that he was going to pay me off or send me out on loan, as I’d been injured. So I thought that there was no point going out on loan so just pay me up so I can go and sign elsewhere, and that’s what I did. I went and signed for Braintree and won the league with them (Conference South) before leaving there and going back to Thurrock for a while, and then signing for Billericay. That was a fantastic time for me and I loved Billericay and it’s still such a great club with great people there, and that’s when I fell in love with football again. I signed for Craig Edwards who always, always got the best out of me along with Mark Stimson. 

We won the league that year as well (Ryman Premier) and went up into the Conference South, and that was fantastic. I stayed there for like two and a half/three years before signing for Canvey Island for a little while, which I enjoyed as the lads were good but I just wanted to go back to Billericay, as it was just such a great place. So I ended up going back there for six months before signing again for Thurrock as player-coach with Mark Stimson, and that year we got promoted (Ryan 1 North) from the play-offs at the first attempt. Then I finished off my career with Grays, going back there as a player-coach but I knew that it was the right time for me to stop because I wasn’t playing as regularly and I was 37 at the time, and the old saying is that when you get to that age you can’t do two games in a week, which I thought was not right. Because the season before at Thurrock I played 48 games as a 36 year old just turning 37, and I said that once I’m in and out of the team then that will be it for me, and I was officially player-coach but never really did any sessions. So I thought that it was just the right time, and I had met my now wife as well and we were talking about starting our own little family and I’ve also got two stepson’s as well, and so it was just the right time. I’m not going to lie I miss the game massively now but for me it was just the right time to finish, and that was nearly three years ago now.

What was your time at Spurs like on the whole?

Glenn: On the whole it was unbelievable and I don’t look back on it with any negativity, because at the end of the day the likelihood of me ever playing in the first team at Spurs was like one in a million. You look at the likes of Ledley King who was in our year, he was always, always going to make it and he was one of the best players who I’ve ever played with. You could tell when he was 14/15 when he came to Spurs just how good he was, also Peter Crouch was the same and in my opinion he was always going to have a great career. I always thought that he would have a good career in the Premier League as he was just fantastic at a young age and he just excelled, and he just got better, and better and better. And also them two were absolutely fantastic lads and even now they are the same down to earth people. But I’ve got no negativity whatsoever about my time at Spurs because it built me up a great footballing education for whatever career I was going to have and what I did have, because the footballing ethics and the professionalism and the way that you conducted yourself was instilled in me from when I first signed there as a 12/13 year old. Just watching those players and the way that they conducted themselves was just great, as well as actually being part of a club which you support and their history. Nobody will probably remember who I was at times but playing with players like John Scales, Les Ferdinand, Chris Armstrong and David Howells in that reserve team was just unbelievable. If you were to say who was Glenn Poole they’d be like who? But to me that was just so, so valuable and there’s no negativity whatsoever, and I’ll always look back on it really well as it was just fantastic. Because I could have been a trainee at like Barnet with all due respects, as that was not for me as being at Spurs was just a great environment to grow up in from when I went there as a 12 year old, to when I left there at 18. 

Me and Dean Harding got on fantastic at Spurs and we just got on really well, and we were two proper technical footballers who weren’t on the big side, and me and Dean just clicked from the first session that we had at Spurs. But there was no negativity from my time at Spurs.

What was the greatest moment of your footballing career?

Glenn: Scoring in the FA Trophy final for Grays (we had a great team) was great, and also at Brentford winning League Two and winning Football League goal of the year for Brentford was also great. Winning leagues at Braintree and Billericay were amazing as well and to have medals on the table is always something to be proud of, and is something that I can show my son and stepsons, and also my grandchildren in the future. Winning trophies was always satisfying for me but probably the most satisfying was winning the FA Trophy final, because we had such a great team and it was a great group of lads, and it was the most enjoyable season collectively that I’ve ever had. Just to top it off I won that in front of loads of friends and family at Upton Park which was local to us, which was just fantastic.

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

Glenn: Ledley King from a teammate point of view was great and he was a teammate for so long in the youth team days, but I ended up playing against him in a friendly for Grays at Spurs Lodge. He was playing that day, and as was Luka Modric and he was just playing at half pace. I also played against Steven Gerrard in the very first FA Under 19 game and he absolutely ran the show, and even then you could tell that he was going to be a player. So from them days I would say those players.

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

Glenn: I remember scoring a goal in a South East Counties game on a Saturday against Bristol City at home, and it was a really, really cold day and we were losing 2-1. I remember Bobby Arber sending me on and I remember the ball came to me and I sort of like let it bounce and swivel and then hit a volley, and it went over the goalkeeper and straight into the top corner, and that was one of the games where I thought that that was decent. So that sort of built my confidence up as I was quite shy as a youngster and quiet, but that brought my confidence out. I also remember scoring a penalty against Southampton in one of the FA Youth Cup games and hitting the ball into the top corner. I also remember my first reserve game at White Hart Lane and ironically that was against Southampton as well, and we won 5-0 on a sunny day. There were a few of us younger lads there and we had to be ballboys as well and I was sitting at the Park Lane end, and I was sitting there on my own and thinking I might be getting brought on here, and there were some top players on the pitch for us. I remember Bobby Arber calling me and waving from the dugout, and it was just unbelievable and to play at White Hart Lane even though there was no one there was just something that I’d always wanted to do, and I couldn’t care how many people were there as it was just an achievement for me. And we won 5-0 and that was unbelievable, also playing in the FA Youth Cup games in front of a bit of a crowd was great. I remember coming on in a game against Walsall and I should have scored a goal but I snatched at a shot and it got cleared off the line, but I should have had a touch and slotted it in.

Who was toughest player that you ever came up against?

Glenn: I just remember one game and it was a testimonial game and I don’t really remember anyone who gave me such a hard time, but it was Damien Johnson who played for Blackburn Rovers. I remember playing left-back for Yeovil (I was 19) in this testimonial and they beat us like 10-0, and I was petrified every time that he got the ball and that was the only game in my career that I was embarrassed in, and I can’t really remember anyone else to be honest. 

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

Glenn: Me and Dean Harding were close from 12 up until 16 when he left, and we would always pair up with each other when we did drills. His dad used to speak to my dad as well and me and Dean would always sit next to each other on the coach, then growing up Wayne Vaughan who was the year above me and was the golden boy at Spurs at the time, we were quite close, and as apprentices he used to pick me up and we would drive in. David Lee is a really good lad and I used to play with him at Thurrock and I’d always see him about, also James Dormer was another one who was the year above me. In my year there was Ledley King, Peter Crouch and Gavin Kelly the goalkeeper and we all used to travel home with each other when we were on the train. Mark Arber (Bobby Arber’s son) was another one who I’ve been close to over the years, but whenever I would see someone from Spurs we would always have a chat.

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

Glenn: Have a fallback plan as you’re not always guaranteed to make it, and you need to work hard and not get sidetracked, also keep your feet on the floor as nothing is guaranteed, never mind a football career. You need to want to learn as I was guilty at times of thinking that I knew it all but you never do, and the book of knowledge is never full. Also don’t take things to heart at times and just have a fallback plan, and if you’re not playing games for Spurs then go out on loan and play games and learn your trade instead of being comfortable sat on decent money. And just enjoy playing because it goes so, so fast.

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?

Glenn: Like I say the experience that I had at Spurs was invaluable for me as a player, person and as a supporter, because not many Spurs fans would be in my situation. A lot of the lads when I was there supported Chelsea and Arsenal and so it might have not meant as much to them, whereas to me I’ve always been a Spurs fan and I always will be. I was there when Spurs won the Worthington Cup, and to experience that was just unbelievable, and I had so many valuable life experiences at Spurs, and it’s a club that I’ll always support even though they can really frustrate me. I also do think that if the Spurs manager gets the players that he wants in the summer then he will bring success, but as I say Spurs are a club who are still very, very important to me and it’s a club that I love and always will do.

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

Spurs’ under 18 side have a very important FA Youth Cup fifth round tie against West Bromwich Albion to play on Tuesday night (the game starts at 19:00pm and will take place behind closed doors at Hotspur Way). West Brom overcame Cardiff City (they won that game 2-1) in the last round, to reach the fifth round of this seasons FA Youth Cup, while Matt Taylor’s Spurs side beat AFC Wimbledon 3-0, despite being taken to extra time by the home team on the day. West Brom sit in ninth place in the Under 18 Premier League South, while Spurs are situated in fourth place in the league. However, the only meeting between these two sides this season ended in an uneventful goalless draw at Hotspur Way, but West Brom’s away form this season has been decent. Spurs beat Southampton 3-0 in a league game during the weekend just gone, while West Brom beat Leicester City 4-1 at home. Spurs will need to be aware of West Brom forward Jovan Malcolm who has scored seven goals from 14 Under 18 league appearances for West Brom this season, and who has also stepped up to play for their development side on occasions. At the end of the day this is a cup game, and cup games in this great old youth competition can be unpredictable, as we have seen on numerous occasions over the last few seasons in the FA Youth Cup. Having missed the under 23’s league game against Leicester City last night, Spurs should have Dane Scarlett, Nile John and Alfie Devine available for Tuesday’s FA Youth Cup game, a game for which I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for. Let’s hope that this will be the year when Spurs win the FA Youth Cup for the fourth time in their history.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala (c), Cesay, Muir, Paskotsi, Hackett, Michael Craig, John, Mundle, Devine, Santiago, Scarlett.

Subs from: Hayton, Kyezu, Matthew Craig, Cassanova, Mathurin, Donley.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: 0-0.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: West Brom forward Jovan Malcolm (18), who has scored seven goals from 14 Under 18 league appearances for West Brom this season. Malcolm has also stepped up to play for West Brom’s development side on five occasions this season.

Spurs under 23’s versus Leicester City: (match preview)

Spurs’ under 23 side return to Premier League 2 action tomorrow night (the game starts at 19:00pm) when they play Leicester City at their new and extremely impressive training ground in Seagrave. Leicester City have picked up 17 points from 19 league games this season, and they currently sit in 11th place in the league table, only just avoiding the relegation zone because of goal difference. Tomorrow’s opponents haven’t been on a great run of form of late, and their last league win came back in January. Wayne Burnett’s Spurs side are currently in third place in the league, just four points behind second place Blackburn Rovers. However, in the reverse fixture with Leicester last year Spurs lost 5-1 at Hotspur Way, but Spurs’ form since the start of the year has been really good. Spurs will be without George Marsh for tomorrow’s game as he is suspended after being shown a red card in their last game, while I would be surprised if Dane Scarlett and Alfie Devine play tomorrow, as Spurs’ under 18’s have an FA Youth Cup game against West Brom on Tuesday. I would like to wish Spurs all the very best of luck for tomorrow’s game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Kurylowicz, Markanday, Lavinier, Omole, Cirkin, Bowden (c), Pedder, Bennett, Thorpe, Mukendi, Etete.

Subs from: Maguire, Skinner, Davies, Asante.

Injured/unavailable: George Marsh (suspended).

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: Spurs 1-5.

My score prediction: Spurs 3-1.

My one to watch: Irishman Shane Flynn is able to play as a left-winger and as a left-back, and the 19 year old is really good at getting up and down the flank. Flynn is also a skilful player with good pace, and he has already been on the bench for the Leicester City first team this season.

Spurs under 18’s versus Southampton: (match preview)

Spurs’ under 18 side return to league action tomorrow (the game starts at 11:30am), when they face Southampton at their Staplewood Training Ground, in what is the first of five competitive matches this month for Spurs. Matt Taylor’s side defeated AFC Wimbledon 3-0 (the game went to extra time) in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup in their last competitive game, and with a game against West Bromwich Albion in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup on Tuesday night, it will be interesting to see if Spurs rest some players tomorrow. The Spurs under 23 side are in action on Monday night against Leicester City in the PL2, so that as well as the FA Youth Cup game on Tuesday could possibly mean that some players don’t feature for Spurs tomorrow. Tomorrow’s opponents Southampton haven’t won a Premier League South game since they beat Leicester City 8-2 in October of last year, and the side who are currently bottom of the Premier League South have only picked up seven points from 18 league games this season. Further encouragement for Spurs will be the fact that they have beaten Southampton on their last four visits to their Staplewood Training Ground. And earlier in the 2020/21 season and in the reverse fixture with Southampton, Spurs won 7-0 at Hotspur Way. I would like to wish Spurs all the very best of luck for tomorrow’s game, and it is one where despite Southampton’s bad recent form, it will still no doubt be a very tough game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala (c), Lusala, Muir, Paskotsi, Hackett, Cassanova, Matthew Craig, Mundle, John, Mathurin, Whittaker.

Subs from: Hayton, Cesay, Kyezu, Davies, Haysman.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: Spurs 7-0.

My score prediction: Spurs 4-1.

My one to watch: Southampton forward Sam Bellis (18), who has scored five goals for Southampton’s under 18 side from 11 league appearances this season.

My interview with Spurs’ former Northern Ireland scout Robert Walker:

Robert Walker was Spurs’ Northern Ireland scout from 1980 to 1994. However, Robert returned to his first love Spurs in 2008 after 7 years at West Ham and another 7 years at Portsmouth. The former scout from Lisburn in Northern Ireland had already retired from Scouting but when Redknapp asked him to join him at Spurs again, Robert just couldn’t refuse. In his two times at Spurs he would recommend many, many young and promising Northern Irish players to the club. The Northern Irishman recommended the likes of Gerry McMahon, Paul McVeigh and Steve Robinson to Spurs, and those three players would play for the Spurs first team in competitive games, as well as playing lots of times for the Northern Ireland National team, although he recommended many more players who would have very fine careers in the game, Robert is somebody who I couldn’t speak highly enough of after my interview with him. It was a real pleasure and privilege to interview Robert who is a boyhood Spurs supporter, about his time at Tottenham Hotspur.

What is your earliest footballing memories?

Robert: My first football memory would have been nothing to do with Spurs, in 1957 when I would have been 14. I went to see Northern Ireland play Italy in a World Cup qualifier and interestingly the referee was fogbound in Manchester, so there was 60,000 people in Windsor Park for the international and the referee didn’t come. So they had to play it as a friendly and it was chaotic because people had got out of work to see a World Cup match but all that they could see was a friendly. I was only a kid then and there were fights both on and off the pitch and it was just awful, So a 14 yr old seeing that was my first memory of like big time football. My second memory was probably in 1960 when I saw John White play for Scotland, and he had gone to Tottenham by then but I had seen him play before that when he was with Falkirk and playing for Scotland. I couldn’t take my eyes off him because he was such a different kind of player from anybody I had ever seen before, of course coming from Northern Ireland my hero was Danny Blanchflower, the story goes that after that game Bill Nicholson rang Danny to ask how White had played in the game and after they spoke about Whites performance, Bill Nicholson said I can sign him for £20,000 said to him to get the first train up to Edinburgh and sign him, if you can get him for that. I was kind of already a Spurs fan because of Danny but John White was just the cherry on the cake for me and obviously he was only there a year when they won the double. 

I remember that during that double winning season that I saw Spurs for the first time at Goodison Park and I think they beat Everton 3-1 and John White scored that day too, so so that made my day. After that experience my brother and I used to catch the Heysham boat at 10:30 on Friday nights, arrive at 6:30 next morning, catch a train to London at 7:00am, changing at Crewe, arriving in London around noon, then a tube to Manor House and then a bus to the Ground, queue up for an hour or so watch the game then the reverse journey home, arriving home around 9:30am Sunday morning. We did that twice a year through the sixties. I remember telling Steve Perryman that and he said that the two of us where mad. My brother Harry and I have been Spurs fans since 1960. Another memory was on the 22nd of December 1962, a Friend and I went over to see Spurs v West Ham. The whole journey to London we could not see out the windows of the train, the fog was so thick. My friend had a little radio and we could hear the games all over the country were being called off. We both felt that there was no chance of the game being played but as we came up out of Manor House tube station to our surprise there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. As we went up to the ground and queued, eventually got through the turnstiles, when we were standing on the shelf it was announced through the loudspeaker that John White’s father-in-law had died (he was the then assistant manager). So one of my favourite players was out, then we found out that Blanchflower was injured, so that didn’t sit well with me, two of my favourites out of the game. Anyway we saw an amazing game. The game finished 4-4, one goal from John Smith who stood in for Blanchflower and Dave Mackay got a hat-trick, and so it was 4-4 and not a forward scored from either side. 

When we came back home we found out that loads of games in England weren’t played, so we were really lucky to see a game and to see a 4-4 was something else. We were home just a few days, on Boxing day snow started and it lasted right through to March, there was no football for months. Then the 70s came round and I saw the two League Cup finals that they won against Norwich and Aston Villa, my first two visits to Wembley. In 1978 when I was in England on business I got a train down to Southampton for the last game of the season where Spurs just needed a point to go up to the First Division, having been relegated the year before, the game was sold out, I bought a £3 ticket for £15, and £15 in those days was a lot to me, I remember thinking to myself during the game that half-time must be close, looked at my watch it was only ten past three, it was the longest ten minutes and the longest match I ever saw abs the old Dell wasn’t the nicest ground to be at either and I was also with the Southampton supporters as well. That was one game I did not enjoy, although I did enjoy the final whistle.

Did you play the game at any level? 

Robert: Well I finished off back where I had started playing, which was for my local team, Wesley Football Club. In between I played for Portadown in the Irish League for a while and that was a fairly high standard in those days, lots of players would have been transferred to England back then.

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

Robert: It’s hard to define because there’s different styles, Dave Mackay was just amazing, he could do everything. He could tackle, he could play, an inspiration, he was very impressive. Of course John White and Jimmy Greaves were two other players that inspired me, John, one of the best midfield creators I have ever seen. As a striker you couldn’t go past Jimmy, he was the best striker in the world back then. Not forgetting Cliff Jones, Mike England another two greats. I still believe to this day that if those players had come along now with the training facilities and the pitches the clubs have now, they would have excelled at the top level, great players are great players. Later on there was Perryman, Hoddle, Ardiles, Jennings, etc. Last but by no means least, the main man, William Edward Nicholson OBE


How did you come to be the Spurs Northern Ireland Scout?.

Robert: I saw a young player here in Northern Ireland called Paul Ferris and I recommended him to Spurs, went to see his mum and dad. They said that he could go over to Spurs for a trial but then it worked out that Northern Ireland were playing Scotland in Scotland, and Bill Nicholson went up to watch the game. I then got a letter from Mr Nicholson saying that although they weren’t going to take Paul (they had just signed Ally Dick), he was offering me the job because he thought that Paul was good enough to play at that level. Paul signed for Newcastle Utd instead and became the youngest ever debutant at 16 years and 294 days. So thanks to Paul I got the job at Spurs.

What is your earliest memory as Spurs’ Northern Ireland scout?

Robert: Going over to meet John Moncur, I think that I went over on the Friday and met him and I remember asking John to take me to a youth game as I wanted to find out what the standard of player they would be looking for. He took me to see the youth team on the Saturday morning then the first team in the afternoon, then the youngsters on Sunday morning. I was very nervous at the beginning but John made me feel at home. Then I suppose recommending my first player to Spurs, that was exciting. In those days the Club trusted the scouts, all you did back then was make a phone call saying that you’d seen a good player, Spurs would make all the arrangements to get the player over with either the parents or myself travelling with them, sometimes both. As a scout I went to games on Saturday morning and afternoon, Sunday morning as well as going to schoolboy games during the week. You can go to lots of games and you can drive all over Northern Ireland because you get people who know that you work for Tottenham, and they would recommend a player to you. You can’t afford not to go watch the player because you just never know, and you can drive for miles and miles to see a player and just be so disappointed, that happens way more often than not, because it’s such a high standard that we are looking for. But now and then this little gem comes along and it makes it all worth while because if you love football like I did and you see that little gem then it’s just great. Now that doesn’t mean that you’re going to sign him because if he’s that good then there will be a lot of scouts after the same player. So with that player it’s a matter of seeing their parents and their club, he might go to three or four clubs for trials but Spurs were always in with a shout because they treated the kids so well on the visits.

Having told me some of your early memories of being a Spurs scout could you talk me through the rest of your career as a scout for the club?

Robert: Well the first player after Paul Ferris was a kid called Ritchie Johnston who never made it, but he was in my opinion the best one of the whole lot, but he didn’t have that other ingredient that every young player needs, work ethic, dedication, whatever the word is, he was a very quiet and unassuming young player and he didn’t have a lot of luck in life as a youngster, but what a player he was. I remember taking him across to the old training ground Cheshunt and I was over with him for a week and Spurs (youth team) were playing either Gillingham or Colchester in a game. This was the first time that Ritchie was playing for Spurs in an actual arranged game and John Moncur came over to me and said that it looks like you’ve got a player there. I said to him John if I’d have wanted to bring a midfield player over then I wouldn’t have brought Ritchie as that was not the Ritchie Johnston that I know, Ritchie was dropping in deep in that game. There was a big centre-forward playing and Ritchie laid on three goals for him, that was on the Friday and then on the Sunday they were playing again. So early that morning I tried hard to convince him to be the Ritchie Johnston that I knew and I’ll always remember Cheshunt on that nice sunny morning. Spurs won the game 7-1 and Ritchie got six goals. I remember Glenn Hoddle, Ossie Ardiles were there watching as they’d got a knock on the Saturday and so they were in for treatment, after which they came out to watch the game. at the end of the game Glenn Hoddle came over to John Moncur and said where did you get that player from, as Ritchie was so good. 

In those days Spurs were one of the few clubs who had two youth teams whereas most of them only had the one, but Spurs had the two and so Ritchie was playing for the under 16 team when he was like 14, and then a year later he was playing both for the under 16 and under 18 side. So he was doing really well and then when Terry Venables came (it might have been an international break) for some reason he couldn’t take charge but anyway he had arranged a friendly with Brentford and at that stage Ritchie was about 17. It was the first ever team that Venables picked and he (Ritchie) might have been sub, but he did play in that game. Then afterwards Stephen Robinson, Gerry McMahon and Paul McVeigh came along but there were players in between that I brought across to Tottenham who signed for other clubs. I also remember when Gerry, Paul and Stephen made their first team debuts and it was such a thrill to think that you’ve done at least a little bit to make that happen, then obviously when they make their international debuts, That made me so proud.

Would you be able to tell me some interesting players that you recommended to Spurs?

Robert: The ones who got away you mean. There was David Healy (Man Utd) Northern Ireland’s record goal scorer, Neil Masters (Wolves) a really good player, Keith Rowland (West Ham), Gareth McAuley (Leicester City and West Brom), Steven Davis as a very young player was somebody who I talked to Spurs about many times but he was like eight years old then and too young to take across, and there were also many more.

What was your time at the Lilywhites like as a whole ?

Robert: It was absolutely brilliant and I was treated really well and probably only for the chairman at the time then I would probably have never went anywhere else. If you can imagine being a supporter from when you were like six years old and then getting to work for Spurs was just brilliant, and they treated me great and John Moncur was very good to me. I was going to watch games from 1980 to 1994 in the middle of the troubles in Northern Ireland, and I went into every area but for some reason I was looked after well, I like to think that football crosses all boundaries. But my time at Spurs was terrific. I’m not taking any credit for this but I was the reason along with John Moncur why Spurs (with Stephen Robinson and Nicky Barmby in the team) came to the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland as Under 16’s which they won that year. Also Spurs’ Republic of Ireland scout John Fallon and I have remained great friends from the early eighties when I had brought Ritchie over to Spurs he had brought a lad over called Tommy Fitzgerald around the same time, he was John’s first player. So that was one of those coincidences that happened, also I remain a very good friend of Gerry McKee who took over from me as Spurs Northern Irish scout

You came back to Spurs in 2008 when Harry Redknapp took over as the Spurs manager. What was it like to come back to Spurs after all those years?

Robert: It was different because the whole youth set-up had all changed. I was old school. When I was first at Spurs all I did was lift the phone and say that I had found a player, and then John (Moncur) would have arranged it all and sent me the tickets, but when I went back it was writing report after report and using new technology and all that stuff. So it had all changed and all of the people that I knew had left, but going back to my first time there, there was a story which is very important to me. When I was in John Moncur’s office one day, we were just having a chat when the door opened behind me and I got a hand on my shoulder and he said Rob would you like a cup of tea? Without even looking around I said yes thanks, and then the door closed again before opening five minutes later and Bill Nicholson was there with my tea. And I was thinking Bill Nicholson made me a cup of tea and he knew my name, how great is that. That was amazing but Bill was such a lovely man. That would never have happened when I went back because the youth system as far as the youth scouts were concerned were so far removed from the first team set up it was unbelievable. In the old days the fans used to get into the training ground to watch, when I went back as a scout I used to have to show my Spurs credentials to get in and I was working for the club. Fans do not mean anything to the big clubs now. Change for the sake of it, is not always for the best.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Robert: Well John Moncur was very good to me and I enjoyed the company of the likes of Pat Holland, Chris Hughton and Peter Shreeves as they were proper football people. Paul Gascoigne was absolutely brilliant with me and I know everybody says things about him but in my eyes he was one of the kindest people on the planet, he was also great with the young players as well. People will advise you to never meet your heroes because sometimes you can be disappointed, in saying that I’ve met two of the best people that I’ve ever met in football and one of them is Harry Redknapp and the other one is Steve Perryman. Both remain great friends to this day. They both are two of the nicest and most down to earth people you will ever meet, Steve is as honest as they come and Tottenham through and through, Steve probably was the last of the great captains. As nowadays in football I don’t think that there really are proper captains anymore and in my opinion he was the best Spurs home grown player ever, though Glenn is up there with the very best because of his skills, he was a genius. I also saw Harry Kane as a youth player the last time that I was at Tottenham as a scout about two or three times and I was not impressed at all, but he just took off, there are some late starters in the game. I admit that I never thought that he would reach the heights that he has reached, as he is absolutely phenomenal now. I choose Steve because of the 19 years that he was at Spurs, 17 with the first team and captain for 11 of those years, 854 appearances. Steve Perryman is one of the most important players ever at the club. That’s why I choose him.

What do you feel was your greatest contribution to Spurs as a scout?

Robert: I suppose the players I recommended that made the Spurs first team, it’s always about the players. The major clubs in the U.K. Always think there might be another George Best in Northern Ireland. He was a one off I am afraid to say.

Are there any memories from your time as Spurs’ Northern Ireland scout which stand out to you?

Robert: A memory which stands out was when Spurs were signing Nicky Barmby he had come over here to play against Northern Ireland Schoolboys and I kind of had to look after him for a while as John (Moncur) was having lunch with Nicky`s mum and dad. Another one was a player called Justin McBride who was a very good player and played for Glentoran was in his early 20s. This would have been in 1991 and I had to go and watch Justin playing for Glentoran v Glenavon in an Irish Cup game, the game ended 0-0. The replay was at Glenavon’s ground on the Tuesday night, so I went up to the game to watch Justin, but there was a player playing for Glenavon who I never heard of. As I knew most of the players over here, I could not understand why I I never heard of him, he was absolutely brilliant. I had no mobile phone at the time, so I went down to the social club and got a pound changed into ten pence pieces, and went to the phone on the wall and rang Terry Venables and said that you can forget about Justin McBride as I’ve seen somebody else. They then sent Ted Buxton over to watch him but he ended up getting hurt in that game, but they signed him a week later for a good fee and also Spurs came over to play Glenavon in a pre-season friendly. Also part of the deal. The player also got to stay with Glenavon until the end of the season when they reached the Irish Cup Final, so Ted Buxton came over to watch the cup final and Glenavon won 2-1, that player was Gerry McMahon who scored the winner. Gerry was another who loved it at Tottenham.

What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to make it in the game?

Robert: First of all I would tell them that they already have the skills that can be developed, if not they would not be interesting the pro clubs in the first place. Secondly I would tell them that ability alone is not enough to make it. You need complete dedication and a willingness to give 100% to football. Nothing less will do. Bringing me back again to Steve Perryman, his attitude as a 13/14 year old was really the attitude of somebody much more mature, as he was grown up in that football environment he knew what he wanted and he knew that nothing was going to stop him. That’s as much a thing as the talent that he obviously had, at that time I think that any team in England would have signed Steve when he was a schoolboy.

After all these years how do you look back on your time with the Lilywhites and is Spurs a club who still hold close to your heart?

Robert: It was one of the best times of my life and I am still grateful at being offered the chance to be Northern Ireland’s Spurs scout.To answer your question I will offer a quote from one of Spurs best ever players . Once a Spur, always a Spur.

Some notes on Spurs loanee Troy Parrott’s performance against Rochdale A.F.C.

Troy Parrott returned to the Ipswich Town starting eleven on Saturday afternoon for their League One game against Rochdale, at the Crown Oil Arena. Parrott completed 72 minutes of Ipswich’s 0-0 draw with Rochdale, and the Republic of Ireland international played just behind Ipswich striker Kayden Jackson, for Paul Cook’s side. Parrott’s first real involvement of the game arrived fairly early on in the match, after the Dubliner met Teddy Bishop’s cross from the right flank, inside the Rochdale penalty area. With Rochdale defenders close to Parrott, he knew that he would be unlikely to test the goalkeeper, so instead he nodded the ball back to Alan Judge on the edge of the box, but his goal attempt went well over the goal. Another ball into the Rochdale penalty area, this time by Gwion Edwards, ended up missing every Ipswich player and went behind for a Rochdale goal kick. However, Parrott was in a decent amount of space inside the penalty area and in a good area, and so he looked at Edwards and signalled to him that he had wanted the ball into his feet, after the Ipswich player had crossed the ball. Ipswich were seeing more of the ball during the opening stages of the first half, but neither side were able to create any chances of real note. As always Troy was showing a real desire to press the opposing teams players and also track back, but it would have been frustrating for him to have had very little of the ball in the final third. After doing well to win the ball some thirty yards out from goal Troy Parrott brought the ball forward a bit before passing the ball to Kayden Jackson, who tried to give it back to the advancing Spurs player. However, the pass from Jackson had a bit too much on it, and while the move showed good intent a Rochdale defender ended up intercepting the ball inside the Rochdale box, before Troy could get on the end of it.

In what was a very even game of very few chances during Troy Parrott’s time on the pitch, the game itself lacked that bit of magic from either side. During the second half (during Troy’s time on the pitch) the Ipswich forwards were probably less involved in the final third than in the first half. The one real attacking involvement for Parrott came not long before he was substituted in the 72nd minute of the match. After receiving Kayden Jackson’s pass near to the Rochdale penalty area, Parrott’s first touch saw the ball get away from him a bit, and while he didn’t give up and he did try to run in between two Rochdale defenders, Parrott couldn’t really get anything on the ball and in the end he went to ground, but a penalty was not awarded by the referee, despite Troy asking the question. This would have been a very frustrating game for Ipswich as they try and get into the play offs, but also for Parrott who didn’t really receive the ball in good areas of the pitch, and was therefore unable to impact the game in the way that he would have liked to.

Some notes on Spurs loanees Jubril Okedina and Shilow Tracey’s performances against Morecambe:

Spurs loanees Jubril Okedina and Shilow Tracey were both involved in Cambridge United’s 2-1 League Two victory over Morecambe on Saturday afternoon. Okedina completed the whole of the match, while Shilow Tracey was introduced to the game in the 75th minute and he won the penalty which Cambridge scored, to get that crucial second goal of the game. Jubril Okedina started the game on the right hand side of a back four, in central defence, and the 20 year old who has made great strides in his development this season put in another solid defensive performance. After a high tempo start to the game Cambridge United took the lead in the 18th minute of the match, and they were the better team during the first half. Okedina’s first real involvement in the game from a defensive point of view was to get in front of Morecambe’s Carlos Mendes Gomes on the edge of the Cambridge United box, to get on the ball in front of Mendes Gomes. However, the Cambridge United defence weren’t really tested too much during the first half. At the beginning of the second half Jubril Okedina sprinted to get in front of Morecambe’s Cole Stockton on the edge of the Cambridge United box, before winning the ball and passing back to the goalkeeper (Callum Burton) who then cleared it up field. During the 55th minute of the game Morecambe had a man sent off, but they would still test the Cambridge defence further during the remainder of the half. Shilow Tracey was introduced to the game in the 75th minute. Not long afterwards Okedina, who had kept good positioning throughout the match would clear behind Liam McAlinden’s cross from the left flank into the Cambridge penalty area.

Jubril Okedina then cleared away John O’Sullivan’s cross, and then a couple of moments later Shilow Tracey was involved in the game for the first time. The Spurs winger received Wes Hoolahan’s pass on the left flank, before surging forward into the Morecambe penalty area, where he was brought down by a Morecambe defender. A penalty was awarded by the referee and Paul Mullin scored it, although Morecambe did get a goal back in the 88th minute of the game. During the final stages of the match Shilow Tracey managed to get on the ball in the middle of the pitch, and he then traveled forward with the ball at great pace towards the corner flag on the left flank, before passing the ball to a teammate who held the ball up, as Cambridge United held on to win the game. Jubril Okedina had another good game in central defence, where he read the game well and was always composed in his play, while Shilow Tracey once again made a positive impact on the game after being introduced in the second half.

My interview with former Spurs player Laste Dombaxe:

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. 

My interview with Spurs’ former Republic of Ireland scout John Fallon:

John Fallon was Spurs’ Republic of Ireland scout from 1984 to 2015 (for a relatively short time during that period John joined Roy Keane at Sunderland when he was the manager there), and during that time the Dubliner who was also a kit man for the Republic of Ireland Senior Team during the 2000s (for 12 years), would recommend many a player to Spurs. Fallon recommended the likes of Stephen Carr, Stephen Kelly, David McDonald and Mark Yeates to Spurs, as well as many, many more players, and recently I had the great pleasure and privilege of talking to John about his long association with the club as their Republic of Ireland scout.

What is your earliest footballing memory?

John: My earliest one would have been the Spurs double team and you tended here in Ireland to the follow the teams that were successful. But when I grew up in Dublin it was very similar to Gerry McKee, so it was Man United, Liverpool and Celtic fans, but there were a few people my age as well as their children who supported Spurs, but in the last few years I’ve noticed quite a lot of Spurs supporters around. I was from a place in Dublin called Cabra and it was a great footballing place and loads of footballers came from around there such as Liam Whelan who was from only down the road and also Jimmy Conway and lots of other players. We used to call it the home of football. 

 Did you play the game at any level?

John: I did and I played during my schoolboy years with a club called Stella Maris which was Johnny Giles’s old club, and we had a really good side. I went away to Blackburn on trial when I was 15 and then I came back and I played with Shelbourne and then I went to Athlone Town, and I also played for Shamrock Rovers for a season but only in the reserves. I then dropped out of football because of some personal troubles and I managed schoolboy teams when I was about 20/21 but then I got lost a bit and then after that I asked if I could have the Spurs job (Republic of Ireland scout) out of the blue. So I just picked up the phone one day and rang Tottenham and said are you looking for a scout? And they said I don’t know and you’ll have speak to John Moncur, and this was on a Wednesday and it was hard to get a job because it was a random person ringing you up, and you know what I mean it could be anyone. So I rang back the next day and he (John Moncur) said that yeah and that he’d be interested, and so at some point when you’re over we’ll have a chat. I turned up on the Saturday for a game which was two days later, and I think we were playing Nottingham Forest. I knocked on the front door and said can I see John Moncur and John gave me the job and we went on from there. Tommy Fitzgerald might have been the first player that we signed and it just went on from that and it was just a dream come true, and I couldn’t describe what that done for my life going to watch eight or ten matches a week, and we signed quite a few lads during that time. I think I had four/five players who played for the Spurs first team, and they were Mark Yeates, Stephen Kelly, Stephen Carr. And then in the early days when Terry Venables was there (Spurs paid money for him) we signed David McDonald, and I think that he only played two or three games but then he ended up playing about 400 for Barnet. 

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

John: Jimmy Greaves. I loved Jimmy Greaves and also Bill Nicholson, and then in relation to Ireland Johnny Giles, but Jimmy Greaves was the biggest attraction to me. But I also loved Dave Mackay for what he was and for what he stood for in the club, and then I think the next big one that I remember was Spurs winning the FA Cup final in about 1962. Then in the 1967 FA Cup final I remember being so nervous about the result and worrying whether they’d win it, and then little did I know I’d actually be on one of the buses for one of the cup finals with some of the staff going to Wembley in the match against Nottingham Forest, and the club treated us brilliantly that day, and it was just unbelievable. John Moncur was the biggest connection and he was brilliant, and I can’t talk highly enough of John and we’re still friends now and I hope that we always will be. I used to go over to Spurs regularly because I loved the atmosphere of the place, and I used to get over maybe six to eight times a year. At that time a lot of the offices were based in White Hart Lane and I’ll never forget this day when I went to go into John Moncur’s office, and I opened the door and the door kind of banged against a chair, and there was Bill Nicholson in the office working away. Talk about starstruck I nearly cried and I couldn’t believe it, he was such a nice man and every time that I used to go over he would say how’s John and how’s things in Dublin. And what a gentleman and what a lovely, lovely man, and for what he was and what he achieved. So many things that were beyond belief happened to me working for Spurs that it was just unbelievable, and meeting these people day in day out. Such as working with Terry Venables and having tea with Ossie Ardiles and Chris Hughton, and meeting Glenn Hoddle was just unbelievable.

What is your earliest memory of being Spurs’ Republic of Ireland scout?

John: The first one was travelling over with Tommy Fitzgerald for the trial and then also Curtis Fleming who played for Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace. I think that Curtis was the first player that I actually sent over but they didn’t sign him and he was a brilliant lad, then when they signed Tommy who was the first player that you’d sent to the club that was great. I think at one time that in one of the teams at Spurs we actually had nine Irish lads, and I think that four of them were UK born like Peter Gain and Kevin Maher, but I think that there was Alan Mannix, Ross Darcy and Simon Webb, and so you were looking at half the team that were Irish and so that was brilliant, but there were just so many highlights. Terry Venables was a football genius as John Moncur said but what a man he is, and the first time that I met him we shook hands and he said how’s it going, and are they looking after you and are you getting your expenses, and small little things like that which are huge for somebody who was doing the job that I was doing. It broke my heart when Terry left Spurs.

Having told me some of your early memories of being a Spurs scout could you talk me through the rest of your career as a scout for the club?

John: It was all Spurs related at that stage and I remember Spurs paid a fee for David McDonald from the League of Ireland even though he was only 16, early on. Then Bobby Arber got involved and he had a great eye for players, and he really spotted Mark Yeates and Stephen Kelly, and we were there together scouting and he liked the both of them and so both of them signed and got into the first team. Things changed over the years and it depended a lot on the manager, so Terry Venables wanted to be really involved and also Ossie Ardiles and Steve Perryman, and actually Steve Perryman was another idol of mine. I remember when Stephen Carr signed for us and six months later he made his debut and he (Steve Perryman) said that if you have a house then bet it on Stephen Carr playing international and Premiership football. I think at the time that Stephen Carr was one of the youngest ever players for Spurs, and Stephen missed out on that record by eight days, and Steve Perryman said that it would have been great if he had broken that record. I think that Stephen made his debut at like 16 and eight months, but that’s been passed now and some of the lads like Dane Scarlett have broken it. But look you would have had to have woken me up and said that you work for Tottenham as I just couldn’t believe it. The prestige that it gave you and the confidence that it gave you was great and I don’t mind saying that. I used to go to say 50 internationals a year and I don’t think that for four or five years I missed any age group matches of internationals that were played in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England, that involved Ireland. 

Terry Venables used to always tell me to make sure that we know about players otherwise we can’t sign them, but probably my biggest miss was Roy Keane even though we knew about him and he was due to go to Tottenham the week after, but Nottingham Forest offered his club £15,000 and we hadn’t seen them. In them days you wouldn’t sign somebody if they had come to the club and had a trial as such and that was one of my biggest regrets, but you can’t sign them all either. There were loads of lads that we missed out on and I seen that John Moncur mentioned Ole Gunnar Solskjær in your interview, well I remember watching Norway playing Northern Ireland in Belfast and Ole played centre-forward, and I sent in a report and I know that John got it but I don’t know what happened to it after that, but there was also another player who was a left-back called Bjørn Tore Kvarm. Going on I got the job working with the Republic of Ireland international side because I’m involved in the sports business, and going to the World Cup with Ireland was a dream come true and I had twelve great years. Then Chris Hughton came in as assistant manager and that was great and then also Stephen Carr was there, but I was good friends with the vast majority of that squad like Gary Breen and Kevin Kilbane, and the whole thing was just great. 

Would you be able to tell me some interesting players who would go on to make it in the game that you recommended to Spurs?

John: I didn’t recommend this player but we went to see a League of Ireland selection play Man City and James McClean played at the time and I think that we should have signed him. We had a chief-scout at the time and they were thinking about it but then he signed for Sunderland two days later for £300,000, and James has had a great career in the game. Damien Duff was tied down to his club and John O’Shea had agreed a deal to go to Celtic and I did ask if he would like to go to Spurs but he didn’t really, and I think that Alex Ferguson maybe flew over to John’s home. But it was players like that who you would maybe be kicking yourself that you didn’t get them to Tottenham, but there was very few players that we wouldn’t have known about even if we didn’t sign them. But probably Roy Keane is my biggest regret if I’m being honest and I probably should have pushed it a lot harder but I don’t think that anybody knew how good Roy was going to be, nobody! Robbie Keane was another one and he went to Wolves and a friend of mine had been scouting him and that deal was done from pretty early on. Another player was Ryan Manning who was a player who I recommended to Tottenham, but they didn’t think that he was quite good enough. Richard Dunne was another one but he was away with Everton early, but once I had reported the players to Terry Venables and he knew about the players, then it was in my hands to try and get them over. But it was up to the club then as I didn’t have the say in who signs and who doesn’t, and John Moncur would always back you to the hilt but you didn’t always get it right, no more than anybody. Going off topic probably the greatest schoolboy player that I ever sent over to Spurs who signed for them was a lad called Darren Grogan and he had a bad ankle, but he was the best schoolboy player that I ever seen, and still is. He was only 15 when we signed him and he came home and he played against the Dublin Schoolboys against Manchester United and I was one of the sponsors so I was there. 

Alex Ferguson was jumping up and down wanting to know how they didn’t sign him, and so he was one player who we signed but didn’t come through, and there are plenty of lads that you thought were really good players but one thing or another meant that they didn’t make it, even though they might have made a living out of the game. 

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

John: I loved every second and it’s not that you took it for granted but I just loved it, and going over to the club and just being recognised when you were there by Gerry at the gate and saying how are you doing and how’s it going and then getting you a cup of tea, that was just great. As was knowing all of the lads in the cloakroom on match day and also Terry Venables and John Moncur treating you as an equal and not talking down to you but listening to you, and you’ve got to earn that respect. When I first started at Spurs I was young and only just in my thirties and I was winging it a bit as it’s something that you learn through watching players, and unless it’s Pelé or Maradona you need to watch it and back your judgement, and that comes out of experience and it doesn’t just come to you, if you know what I mean. It’s different now with all of the analysts as they can put out anything they like but there’s nothing like actually seeing a player. When I went to work for Roy Keane at Sunderland I got a lad called David Meyler who wasn’t even training with Cork’s first team, and if not for his injuries I think that he would have been a top, top player, and I wasn’t working at Tottenham at the time. But I loved every minute of working for Tottenham and I loved the club and still do now, and it still breaks my heart every week or every month when we lose a match. So I just loved every part of it and I loved people saying that I worked for Tottenham, and it’s just so hard to explain. It’s a bit like when I was working for Ireland and it was just for me the pinnacle to be working for your country, but Spurs the club that you love and still do are up there with that. You forget how managers that you worked for, and stuff like having tea with Steve Perryman and Ossie Ardiles, and Ossie telling you about the World Cup and Daniel Passarella as if he knew me all his life. 

I remember when Spurs played Shamrock Rovers in Dublin when I was still working for the club, and I went out to drop a friend of mine off to meet Harry Redknapp who knew him better than me, and he (Harry Redknapp) said how are you John and we’re going into town and would you like to come with us? And he was asking me what I thought of this and that, and so that was just brilliant. There’s probably not enough words to describe the way it was with Spurs 

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

John: John Moncur and Terry Venables, without a doubt. David Pleat was great I have to say and his football knowledge was frightening, also Steve Perryman and Chris Hughton were brilliant at the time but John Moncur was just brilliant. I probably wouldn’t have lasted as long without John, mainly because he was honest, backed you to the hilt and trusted your judgment. But at the end of the day John made the decision and you respected it because you kind of knew that he had the knowledge even if it was a super player that might be better than what he had, then John would make that decision, and they weren’t easy decisions to make as they are anything but simple decisions to make. John was a great man for negotiations and a great man for signing players, and he just knew what to say as he knew what was what.

 What do you feel was your greatest contribution to Spurs as a scout?

John: The fact that I’m able to sit down and know that four players that I sent away to Spurs were signed by them and played in their first team, and I have to tell myself that. Stephen Carr was sold for two and a half million or whatever and Stephen Kelly for a million, and the moneys not important but it was more the fact that they actually played for the club that you supported and that you actually had a big hand in that, and they are probably the proudest things ever. Especially watching Stephen Carr make his debut and watching him progress and become maybe the best right-back in Europe at one stage before his injury. Plus I liked the friendship with the lads that you sent away to Spurs and the fact that you might still be in contact with them, even though they might not be superstars they’re great lads and they’ve still made a living out of the game, and when you still meet them now they still have a bit of respect for you. There was no downside to working at Tottenham, none whatsoever and you’d wake up every morning and count your blessings.

 Are there any memories from your time as Spurs’ Republic of Ireland scout which stand out to you?

John: I think the main memories is when the lads made their debut, such as when I realised that Stephen Kelly, Stephen Carr and Mark Yeates were going to start. Not being selfish also the fact that you knew so many people at the club and they knew you was nice. I remember travelling up to the FA Cup final in 1991 and the party afterwards was brilliant and that always sticks in my head as well as the way that you were treated by people. I mean Bill Nicholson asking me how’s things in Dublin and asking me if I wanted a cup of tea, that is about as unimaginable as anything. You can have all the money in the world but you just can’t buy them memories.

 What would your advice be to the young Spurs players of today as they look to make it in the game?

John: I know it’s a cliché but never give up and if it’s not Spurs always think it will be somebody else. You get a manager who really likes you and he works with you for a year but then he leaves and the other manager comes in and he doesn’t fancy you, so there’s so much luck involved in it but never give up. You’ve got to be a bit obsessive and singleminded that this is what I want, and I did about 160 full internationals when I was away on international duty and about 100 youth internationals as a kit man. You’d be away at times from your family and someone might have died, there might be a wedding or a birthday and you’re not there for it, so that’s what goes with the territory but surround yourself with good people. Surround yourself with winners is an old saying and listen to the ones that matter, but never ever lose your focus, not in an arrogant way but in a humble way, and always believe in yourself. 

 After all these years how do you look back on your time with the Lilywhites and is Spurs a club who still hold close to your heart?

John: I cherish every memory and it was just so simple that at the time I just couldn’t believe it that I got the job in the first place. I just wanted to hold onto it and I just loved every minute, and there was no downside to being at Tottenham as it was all a plus and I just loved it. Just the whole club, the place, the feel around it and the people was just great, so the people who were not involved in the football club like the secretaries and Gerry the security guard on the gate and just being greeted by him was great, and also people knowing you. I can remember going to Man City and they forgot to leave a ticket out for me and I was just standing there and then Vinny Samways came over to me to see if I was ok, and then he came back from inside with a ticket for me. Being at Spurs was like being part of a family that you loved, and I just loved every part of it.