My piece on Spurs’ Academy graduate Oliver Skipp – the continued rise of one of the most talented footballers that I have ever seen in Academy football:

Oliver Skipp’s rise to the Spurs first team has been excellent to see, having seen the midfielder and Spurs Academy graduate rise through the Academy ranks at the club that he has always supported. The player from Welwyn Garden City, who was brought up in Hertford, has so far made 51 competitive first team appearances for Spurs, and it surely would have been quite a lot more, but for the fact that he missed much of the second half of last season because of injury. The 21 year old is a central midfielder who can play as a defensive midfielder or in a more forward midfield role. He made 23 competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side in the 2016/17 season, before signing for the club full-time as a first year scholar in the summer of 2017. Yet even though he was one of the most inexperienced players of the Spurs Under 18 side during the 2016/17 season, he looked like he had been playing football at that level for years. An excellent reader of the game and someone whose confidence on the ball was wonderful to see, Skipp was already able to run games from midfield at that stage of his career, at that high Academy level.

Starting a decent number of matches for the Spurs Under 18 side during 2016/17 and 2017/18 in central defence, I never saw Skipp have a bad game in that position. In fact I thought that he was excellent and very assertive in defence, with his fantastic reading of the game very apparent. He has also shown good leadership qualities ever since I first saw him play for Spurs, and he would always point things out and give instructions to players, regardless if they were second year scholars, when he was still not a scholar himself. He even made his debut for the Spurs Under 23 side as a schoolboy footballer during the 2016/17 season, as a late substitute. No schoolboy footballer has since gone on to feature for the Spurs Under 23 side since Oliver Skipp made his competitive debut for the side. A good passer of a football who is always looking to pass the ball forward, Skipp made great strides during his first season of scholarship with Spurs, when he was mainly with the Spurs Under 23 side, who he made a really good number of appearances for.

In 2017/18 I saw Oliver boss matches in midfield against sides who had older first team players playing for their Under 23 side. Skipp was a regular for the Spurs Under 19 side in the UEFA Youth League that season, and he would also feature for the Under 18 side on occasions, where his class and experience of already playing for the Under 23 side really showed. A brave player whose positioning has always been very good, he would always give more than 100% in every Academy game that I saw him play in for Spurs, and I was lucky enough to watch almost every game that he played for the Under 18’s, 19’s and 23’s, live. Providing that link between the defence and the forwards, Oliver’s surging forward runs at pace and with skill, that he would often go on at Academy level for Spurs were brilliant. He reminds me quite a bit of a player that he came up against at Under 18 level, in West Ham United’s Declan Rice. Both such assertive players in that midfield role, both are so good at carrying the ball forward from deep with skill and are also able to glide past players, while also being such tenacious defensive midfield players at the same time. I have often thought that there are a lot of similarities between both players, even though Declan Rice is older than Oliver Skipp.

The 2018/19 pre-season was a good one for Oliver, who impressed with the first team in pre-season friendlies. Skipp would make some appearances early on in the season for the Spurs Under 23 side, but it was a season that he would often train with the first team, and he did make a good number of competitive appearances for the Spurs first team, as a then second year scholar with the club. Then the following 2019/20 season saw the England youth international who has represented his country right up to Under 21 level, spend the whole of that season with the Spurs first team (he made 11 competitive appearances for them). On loan with Norwich City for the 2020/21 season, where he helped them to win the Championship, Oliver made 47 competitive appearances for Norwich, becoming such an important team player for them. And then we get to the 2021/22 season, the season just gone. Given a regular first team midfield role by the then Spurs head coach Nuno Espírito Santo, Skipp was impressive and he would keep his place in the side after Antonio Conte took over as the new head coach at the club.

Unfortunately Oliver missed much of the second half of the 2021/22 season because of injury, which was a real shame. However, I do hope that he is able to return to the first team for the upcoming pre-season, as I believe he has so much more to give, and so much potential for further improvement. This technical, energetic, tenacious and highly skilful midfielder, in my eyes has all the attributes to become a Spurs great, and a future England international too. And I’m hoping that Oliver can continue to progress really well, and I also do believe that he will be very important for Spurs over what will be a 2022/23 season which has so many games to play.

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