My interview with former Spurs player Jamie Reynolds:

Westminster born former Spurs Academy player Jamie Reynolds is a talented and determined footballer, who can play in midfield or at left-back. Very good at getting forward with the ball, at linking-up with the winger on his side of the pitch as a left-back during his Spurs days, and at creating chances for the forwards, the now 22 year old footballer is also a tenacious player who is strong in the challenge. Formerly with Chelsea as an Academy player, prior to joining Spurs, Jamie Reynolds often played in midfield during his first season as a scholar with Spurs. However, he played much of the following 2017/18 season at left-back. He was an important member of the Spurs Under 18 side during the 2017/18 season, and in my opinion he did really well. However, Jamie unfortunately picked up a bad injury in an Under 18 Premier League South game away to Norwich City, late on during that season. He had an operation following that injury, and would later have two further operations during the following 2018/19 season. He returned for the first time however, during the October time of the following 2018/19 season, with the then Spurs Under 23 side, but after playing some games for them during the remainder of that season he was unfortunately released by the club at the end of that season.

Jamie has since gone on to play for non-League side Billericay Town, and also Cheshunt, who he is currently playing for. He helped them to win promotion to the National League South for the new 2022/23 season, and he is doing really well for Cheshunt. I recently had the great pleasure of speaking to Jamie, about his memories of his days at Spurs, as an Academy player. 

What are your earliest footballing memories?

Jamie: I remember playing for my local team, and I was probably about five years old. And I remember winning this tournament, and I scored a goal after the ball came off my hair from a throw-in, and the referee ended up giving the goal. So that is my earliest footballing memory.

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

Jamie: When I was playing with my local team, I was playing with people who were a year older than me. And the manager’s son was at a Tottenham development centre, and so after being scouted by a couple of clubs the manager, Gary Waters, asked the person at the Spurs development centre whether I could join as well, as he obviously thought that I was good. And so I got pushed further and further up after that. My earliest memory of being at Spurs, is actually my first game for them which was against Everton for the Under 6’s team. We won that game 1-0.

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

Jamie: Growing up I always wanted to be like Lionel Messi, but obviously that was a bit unrealistic. Then when I got a bit older and I started playing in the number ten position, I started to watch David Silva quite a lot. But as for heroes I didn’t have someone in particular, but I just idolised Messi. And so whenever he’s playing a game I try to watch him.

Who were your greatest influences at Spurs?

Jamie: Matt Wells is probably the biggest one, and also Michael Donaldson and Roger Miller, as well. My favourite year was with Matt Wells and Scott Parker as the coaches of the Spurs Under 18 side, and that was when I transitioned to the left-back role, but I wasn’t really playing left-back, apart from when I was out of possession of the ball. So I was really still playing in midfield. I was always injured, and so I never really got to play as much as I’d like, but during that season I got to play week in, week out. So I had almost a full season of playing, and I enjoyed playing for people that believed in me.

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

Jamie: I don’t want to sound like I’m being big headed, because I’m not big-headed one bit, but I just didn’t really feel like there was anyone who played like me. I did look at Tom Carroll when I was a midfield player at the club, because he was also a left footed midfield player, who was technically quite good. So I would say that I looked at someone like Tom Carroll.

During your time at Spurs as an Academy player, you played quite a bit with current Spurs first team player Oliver Skipp. What was he like to play with? And just how good was he in your opinion at that stage of his career?

Jamie: In my first ever game for Spurs against Everton, Oliver Skipp also played in that game, even though he is a year younger than me. The whole time that I was at Spurs growing up Oliver Skipp was always playing in my age group, and never playing in his own age group. So every time that he was on the pitch he was one of our best players. Even though he was younger than the rest of us he was still good physically, and technically he just got better and better. I can remember Bradley Allen really trying to help him to improve his technique, when we were both playing for the Spurs Under 15 side. But every game that I’ve ever played with Skippy, he’s always been one of the best players, and one who has always stood out.

Who has been the greatest player that you have had the pleasure of sharing a pitch with, so far?

Jamie: I’d have to say that it’s got to be either Marcus Edwards, Skippy or Tashan Oakley-Boothe. 

Could you talk me through some of your favourite memories or ones which stand out from your time in the various Spurs Academy sides?

Jamie: Making my debut for the Spurs Under 19 side in the UEFA Youth League against Monaco is one. I think that I played really well in that game. Even going to different countries all over the world was really good. Literally just last week me and my mum were listing all of the countries that I’ve been to. And I’ve been to so many different countries around the world, which I would never have visited if I didn’t play for a top football team. So I went to South Korea, where we had a really good tournament, and also we went to America as well. You are talking about unreal experiences. I remember that we went to Latvia and won a tournament, as well as a tournament in America that we won. Also, the day that I was told that I was getting a pro contract beats everything else, as I was on the highest high after being told that. I had been at Spurs since I was six, and it was something that I had worked for. To go through all of the age groups at the club made me so proud to be able to get that pro contract at Spurs, and that was a massive deal for me, and I was very proud of myself, and I was also very proud to be able to tell my family about it. I felt so good about everything, but then obviously everything went wrong just a couple of months later.

During that 2017/18 season Spurs’ Under 18 side was very good. You were a key player for Scott Parker’s side. What was it like to play for that side so often during the season?

Jamie: I think that we were one of the best teams in the country, tactically. It was such an enjoyable team to play in, as there was just so much fluidity in the team that you could just do what you wanted on the pitch. Because you just knew that someone else would fill in for you, and also know what to do when you weren’t there. So you had so much freedom to do what you wanted, but everyone had an idea of how to play as we got coached that way so much. But it wasn’t a boring way of coaching, as everything was enjoyable. Obviously it all paid off when we started winning games, and we became a really good team.

Who has been the toughest player that you have had to defend against, so far in your career?

Jamie: I’ll always remember playing against Arsenal at home, in an Under 18 Premier League Cup semi-final tie. I was playing against Bukayo Saka, who was playing on the right flank against me. He scored one goal and went past me a few times, and he beat me for pace. So he did everything in that game, as well as nutmegging me in that same game. So I would say that either him or Dujon Sterling for Chelsea would the two most difficult players that I’ve had to defend against, as he was rapid with the ball.

You often used to play quite a bit as a midfielder during your days at the Spurs Academy. How did your move to left-back come about?

Jamie: I started the first one or two games of the 2017/18 season in midfield. I don’t think that we really had a left-back, but we did have quite a few players who played at right-back. I think that because I’m left footed, that I got picked to play at left-back, but to be honest it suited me perfectly and I loved it. I think that because I knew Matt Wells so well and also as he knew how intelligent I was as a footballer, I think that he knew that I’d adapt well to it quite quickly. So him and Scott Parker gave me loads of clips of Oleksandr Zinchenko and the way that he played at Man City. And so I would see that players like him and also Kyle Walker would come inside with the ball into midfield, to make an outlet that way. So I think that they knew that I was able to handle it mentally and tactically. Obviously I wasn’t a defender before, so they did a lot of work on my defending. But I’ve got to mention that Matt Wells and also Scott Parker put in the time for me to learn that left-back role, and that season with them both coaches of the Spurs Under 18 side, that was my favourite season at the club.

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

Jamie: I’d say that it was a bit of a bumpy road. There were good times and also a lot of bad times. But everything that I did was something that I enjoyed, although if I could just take back some of those injuries then maybe things might have been a bit different. But obviously there’s no point dwelling on the past, and I don’t think that I realised how much I loved my time at Spurs until I was released. When I got released I realised then that that was the opportunity of a lifetime, and everything that I wanted. Now I’ve got to work from nine to five, and so you don’t realise what you have until it’s gone. But looking back on it I couldn’t have asked for a better group of lads at Spurs, and all of the team were really funny, and everyone got on really well. There were no real arguments or anything like that, as it was just a really good experience. 

What has been the greatest moment of your footballing career so far?

Jamie: It would be getting promoted last season with Cheshunt to the National League South. I think that it was because no one believed that we’d get promoted, and that really people were predicting us to finish in mid-table, but we got into the play-offs and we beat Bishop’s Stortford in the semi-final, to get to the final. Everyone doubted us but we still got there and got promoted.

Could you talk me through your career after you left the Lilywhites, so far?

Jamie: I was injured after I left Spurs, but as I hadn’t trained at all I was doing rehab  sessions at Spurs. I was told that I could get maybe half an hour in a pre-season friendly with Ebbsfleet, because I was going to Fulham on the Monday, and I was going out to Portugal with them. I was doing really well at Fulham, and I remember that I got called in on the Friday, and I was told to keep doing what I was doing. They said that they had a contract for me to sign when I came back, and I was so happy. They told me to just stay fit, but then when we played Porto on the Saturday I did my quads, and so that was off the table. Then after that I went to Billericay, but I wasn’t there for too long, but I was training with Watford at the same time. They said to me that if they didn’t already have two left-backs, then they would have signed me. I was still at Billericay for another week or so, before I went to Sunderland. I thought that I did really well at Sunderland, and we played Manchester United at Old Trafford and we lost 3-0. But nothing ended up coming from that, and then after Sunderland I went to Cheshunt, and I haven’t looked back since. Obviously I want to be climbing back up the ladders and playing league football, if I’m being optimistic. 

I look back on things in my career so far, and I think what could have been. I think that I had so much unfulfilled potential that I didn’t really grasp. But obviously everyone’s got their own path, and my one is different to everyone else’s, but hopefully I get back to where I want to be. 

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

Jamie: Charlie Freeman was one. He was playing with me in my first game for the club against Everton, and even now I still keep in regular contact with him, and I see him here and there. So Charlie was probably my best mate at Spurs, but during the early days at Spurs Nnamdi Ofoborh and me were good mates, and I was also good mates with Olly Skipp, as well. Also, I’m in quite a bit of contact with Reo Griffiths. Reo didn’t get moved to the centre-forward position until he was in the Spurs Under 16 side, as before that he was playing at centre-back. But he’s a player who is strong on the ball and good with both feet, and he’s fast as well. So he is everything that you could want for a modern day striker, and in the 2017/18 season he was scoring goals every week, and he was also a leader on the pitch for our side, who would get people up for the games. Also, another player at Spurs who was a good mate of mine, was Tariq Hinds. I shared digs with him for two years, and while we weren’t that close before, us living together made us become very good friends. And we are still in contact now.

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

Jamie: Don’t let outside influences affect what you want to do, and I think that you should just practice, practice, practice. I don’t think that I did enough individual stuff. Off the pitch I was quite good in regards to injury prevention, but with ball work I think that you’ve just got to need to practice, practice, practice. Also, don’t be afraid to go up to coaches and ask to do extra work, or to ask them how to improve your game. At the end of the day you need to just stay motivated, as when I was injured it was hard for me as it was easy for me to get demotivated and I’d end up doing stuff that I shouldn’t be doing. I’d say that you need to find an environment where you’re not going to be distracted by outside things. If I could take it all back now, then I’d just focus on football rather than focusing on anything else. Also, just believe in yourself, as I didn’t have enough self-belief. So believe that you are better than the player you are trying to get in front of in the first team. Say if you’re an Under 14’s player playing in an Under 15’s match, then believe that you are better than the person who you are playing against.

It’s been over three years since you left Spurs. How do you look back on your time at the Lilywhites? And is Spurs a club that you still hold close to your heart?

Jamie: I always have been and I always will be a Spurs fan. When I was there and in and around the club, I didn’t support the club as much as I would do, if you know what I mean. As an Under 16 I would support Spurs and watch them week in, week out, but when I was actually at Spurs I feel like I didn’t support them as much as I could have done. But I’m a big Spurs fan, and I watch the games week in, week out now, and it’s a club that has made me the person that I am now. They brought me up as a footballer and I wouldn’t be half as good as I am now, if I was at another club. Especially when I was growing up, my height and stature would have meant that other clubs would have released me, but Spurs actually had the belief in me to keep me and to help me to get better technically. In the end I ended up getting a pro  contract, and so I’ll always love them for that. I can always say that at one point in my life, that I was at Spurs. So they’ll always be close to my heart.

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