Back in the March of 2019 a Spurs Under 18 side became the first ever Spurs side to walk out at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as they played a Premier League South match against Southampton. That was over three years ago that that match was played, on a nice spring day in north London. For many of those Spurs players who played in that game that day, it would have been at that point in their footballing careers, their best ever footballing experience. Played in front of over 28,000 spectators, Spurs won the match 3-1. Spurs’ goals were scored by J’Neil Bennett, Harvey White and Dilan Markanday. A number of regular starters from the excellent Spurs Under 18 side that Spurs had that season, were unavailable for that game. John McDermott and Ryan Mason’s side were missing Paris Maghoma, Luis Binks and Troy Parrott, to name just some of the players who were either away on international duty or injured for that match. It was a fairly routine win for Spurs against Southampton (they were unbeaten in the league that season, going into the Southampton game) and they really deserved to win the game, on what was a historic day in the history of Spurs. That Spurs Under 18 side were outstanding, and it was great to see them play the first ever match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The squad for the match against Southampton:
Joshua Oluwayemi: The goalkeeper who started the match against Southampton, was the first choice goalkeeper for the Spurs Under 18 side during the 2018/19 season, and he hardly missed a match. Oluwayemi was excellent throughout the 2018/19 season, and he also saved a really good number of penalty kicks during the season. The goalkeeper who has since gone on to become a regular for the Spurs Under 18 side, be called-up to represent the senior Nigeria national team, and also play some matches on loan for non-League side Maidenhead United, continues to do well at Spurs, over three years after that Southampton match. The now 21 year old has made 18 competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side this season. He also made the bench for the Spurs first team in pre-season, in a friendly match with Colchester United. He is a goalkeeper who I am sure will go on to have a very good career in the game.
Jubril Okedina: Starting the Premier League South match with Southampton at right-back, the versatile centre-half would often start matches at right-back during the 2018/19 season, for the Spurs Under 18 side. Okedina had a good game for the Spurs Under 18 side at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium against Southampton, and he really made that right-back spot his own in the side for the second half of the 2018/19 season. A great reader of the game who has good ability on the ball, Jubril would later become an important player for the Spurs Under 23 side, in the following seasons, doing well at both centre-half and right-back. He would also become the captain of the Spurs Under 23 side for the first half of the 2020/21 season, before joining then League Two side Cambridge United for the remainder of that season. After helping Cambridge United win promotion to League One, Okedina signed for them on a permanent basis last summer, and overall he has made over 50 appearances for them, and has become an important player for the side.
Malachi Fagan-Walcott: Centre-half Malachi Fagan-Walcott started the first ever match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, alongside Brooklyn Lyons-Foster in central-defence. Fagan-Walcott started the match on the right side of central-defence, and I remember the then first year scholar having a solid game against Southampton. The now 20 year old, would often represent the Spurs Under 23 side as well as the Spurs Under 18 side during the following season, a season in which he also made his first team debut as a substitute, in a UEFA Champions League game against RB Leipzig. Apart from spending a short time on loan with Scottish side Dundee FC (he had to return to Spurs early on in the loan because of injury), Fagan-Walcott has been a regular starter for the Spurs Under 23 side in the last couple of seasons. He has made 13 competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 23 side so far this season, and it will be interesting to see whether he goes out on another loan move during the 2022/23 season.
Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: Still at Spurs, and doing really well in his new defensive-midfield role for the Spurs Under 23 side, up until going off injured in a Premier League 2 match with Blackburn Rovers in January of this year. The now 21 year old player who started the first ever game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on the left side of central-defence, is a player with excellent ability on the ball, but someone who also reads the game really well. Lyons-Foster was a second year scholar during that Southampton game, and the versatile player who only recently signed a new contract with Spurs, has been a mainstay of the Spurs Under 23 side during the 2019/20, 2020/21 and also much of this season. Lyons-Foster has made 17 appearances for the Spurs Under 23 side this season, and he is a player who I think has real potential.
Dennis Cirkin: A highly skilful left-back who really likes to get forward with the ball and take players on for skill down the left flank. Dennis Cirkin was another member of the Spurs Under 18 side of 2018/19, who was in outstanding form throughout that season. Cirkin was a mainstay of the side in 2018/19, and he was so influential from his left-back role, as he showed in that Southampton game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Dennis would later move up to the Spurs Under 23 side, and he even featured for the Spurs first team in the pre-season of 2020, but he would leave Spurs to join League One side Sunderland last summer. During his time at Sunderland so far, Dennis Cirkin has so far made 38 competitive first team appearances for them, and the now 20 year old seems to have made real strides this season.
Oliver Skipp: The match against Southampton in the March of 2019, was actually Oliver Skipp’s only appearance for the Spurs Under 18 side during the 2018/19 season, as although he was still only a second year scholar, Skipp was mostly training with the first team during the 2018/19 season. A player who doesn’t need much introducing, Oliver is a hardworking, highly skilled and tenacious midfielder. The footballer who only yesterday signed a new long term contract with Spurs, has unfortunately been out injured for a while now. However, the 21 year old who has so far made 51 competitive first team appearances for Spurs, was always excellent at Academy level for the club, as he showed in that Southampton game, in his defensive-midfield role. The player who only last season helped Norwich City (on loan) to win the Championship, is a player who I really believe is capable of becoming a Spurs legend.
Harvey White: A midfielder and set-piece specialist, with the ability to make a decisive pass. Harvey White started the Southampton match just ahead of Oliver Skipp in central-midfield. Harvey scored a first half penalty kick in that match, and throughout the 2018/19 season, the midfielder from County Kent provided a great number of assists from midfield, and he also scored a good number of goals as well. The now 20 year old who during the second half of this season has often been on the bench for the Spurs first team, has so far made two competitive first team appearances for the Spurs first team. A regular for the Spurs Under 23 side over the last couple of seasons, Harvey White also spent the second half of last season (2020/21) on loan with League One side Portsmouth.
Dilan Markanday: His skilful runs, excellent close ball control and ability to ride challenges, made Barnet born winger Dilan Markanday one of the most influential players in the Premier League South during the 2018/19 season. The player who I actually named man of the match in the game against Southampton in my match report, started that match on the right flank, as a winger. Markanday later went on to become a regular starter for the Spurs Under 23 side in the seasons that followed 2018/19, and the very skilful player was in exceptional form for the Spurs Under 23 side during the first half of this season, scoring 12 goals and providing eight assists, as well as making his first team debut for the Spurs first team. However, Markanday left Spurs to join Blackburn Rovers in the January of this year, but very unfortunately picked up a long term injury in his debut for the Championship club, in a league game with Hull City. Markanday is an excellent player with real potential, and I am sure that he will return stronger than ever from his injury.
Armando Shashoua: The inspirational captain (he was the first ever captain to lead a Spurs team out at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium) of the Spurs Under 18 side during the 2018/19 season, midfielder Armando Shashoua provided a great number of assists from his usual CAM role, as well as scoring a good number of goals. The younger brother of former Spurs player Samuel Shashoua, Armando’s all-round ability and excellent work off the ball, made him such an important player for the Spurs Under 18 side in 2018/19. Armando led by example throughout that season, and he was a player who I’d never seen have a bad game for Spurs at any levels. He would later play for the Spurs Under 23 side during the first half of the following 2019/20 season, before joining Spanish third tier side Atlético Baleares for the second half of that season. Armando left Spurs to join Atlético Baleares on a permanent transfer for the start of the 2020/21 season, and although he is currently out injured, Armando has established himself as a very important player for Atlético, since joining them, as they look to win promotion to the second tier of Spanish football.
J’Neil Bennett: The first ever scorer of goal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, unpredictable and skilful winger J’Neil Bennett opened the scoring with a fine goal, and he had a good game against Southampton on that day. Bennett started the match out on the left wing and he was often a starter for the Spurs Under 18 side during that 2018/19 season, as well as playing some matches for the Spurs Under 23 side during the same season. The 20 year old, who at the time of the 2018/19 season was a first year scholar, made a number of appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side during the following season, and has since gone on to become a regular for the Spurs Under 23 side. Bennett joined League One side Crewe Alexandra for the first half of the 2021/22 season, but since returned to Spurs because of injury. The player who made his competitive first team debut for Spurs earlier on in the season, has so far scored two goals for the Spurs Under 23 side this season.
Rayan Clarke: Although Rayan Clarke was a winger during his time at Spurs, he actually led the line for the Spurs Under 18 side in that game against Southampton, in the absence of a centre-forward. Clarke was having a good season for the Spurs Under 18 side during the 2018/19 season. The skilful and direct winger who would score a good number of goals for the side in 2018/19, had been at Spurs for a long time up until being released at the end of the following 2019/20 season, when he was with the Spurs Under 23 side. Clarke since went on trial with Sunderland, where he scored a goal for their Under 23 side from one Premier League 2 appearance during the 2020/21 season. However, since leaving Spurs in the summer of 2020, Rayan has unfortunately been without a club.
Kacper Kurylowicz: The substitute goalkeeper for the Southampton match, Kacper Kurylowicz was a first year scholar with the club during the 2018/19 season. The talented and brave goalkeeper only made a couple of appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side during his first season with the club, but he would make a good number of appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side during the following 2020/21 season. Currently on loan from Spurs with non-League side Potters Bar Town, the 20 year old is also with the Spurs Under 23 side.
Maxwell Statham: A solid, brave and reliable all-round defender, Maxwell Statham came on in the 79th minute of the Premier League South match with Southampton. The son of former Spurs player Brian Statham, Maxwell became an important member of the Spurs Under 18 side that came so close to winning the 2018/19 Premier League South. Maxwell was with the Spurs Under 23 side for the following 2019/20 season, before being released by the club at the end of that season. He has since represented Watford at Under 23 level, Hornchurch and now National League South side Welling United, where he is a very important player, and one who has done really well for them during this season, as they look to avoid relegation from that league.
Chay Cooper: A very clever winger with an eye for goal, former Spurs player Chay Cooper came on as a 71st minute substitute at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in the game against Southampton. Cooper would establish himself as an important member of the Spurs Under 18 side during the following 2019/20 season, when he scored a number of goals and provided a good amount of assists. Following his release from Spurs at the end of the 2020/21 season, Chay signed for League Two side Colchester United, and he has been a mainstay of their Under 23 side this season, impressively scoring ten goals for them, as well as making four competitive appearances for the Colchester first team.
Elliot Thorpe: A skilful and direct midfield player, Wales Under 21 international Elliot Thorpe is a player who I’m a big fan of. He plays the game with a smile on his face, but he is a determined midfield player who loves to go on surging forward runs with the ball from deep. Thorpe was an unused substitute for John McDermott and Ryan Mason’s side in the game against Southampton. Elliot would make a good number of appearances for the Spurs Under 23 side over the next two seasons (he even scored a brace in an Under 23 game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium), before signing for Luton Town earlier on this season. The 21 year old has so far made one competitive appearance for the Championship side (in the FA Cup), and he even provided an assist in that game.
Maurizio Pochettino: A hardworking and direct winger, Maurizio Pochettino made a good amount of appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side during his two seasons as a scholar at the club. The son of former Spurs head coach Mauricio Pochettino, Maurizio came on as a 79th minute substitute to replace J’Neil Bennett in the game against Southampton. After spending a season and a half with the Spurs Under 23 side, Pochettino signed for Watford in the January of 2021. He has since made one competitive appearance for their first team, and this season he has scored three goals for Watford’s Under 23 side.