Looking at how former Spurs Academy player Elliot Thorpe is getting on in his footballing career:

22 year old former Spurs Academy player Elliot Thorpe is a player who plays the game with great heart, skill and determination. At Spurs as an Academy player for many years, having joined them from Cambridge United. Elliot, who is a former Wales Under 21 international and Victory Shield winner, had to wait a little while before making his competitive debut for the Spurs Under 18 side, after signing scholarship forms with them in the summer of 2017. The Hinchingbrooke born midfielder had at times been unlucky with injuries during his time at Spurs, but he would have some really good games for the Spurs Under 18 side during his two seasons of scholarship. He would also impress for the then Spurs Under 23 side when he featured for them during the following 2019/20 season, and he would also impress greatly during that pre-season for them. However, it was during the 2020/21 season that Elliot really enjoyed a really good consistent run of games in. He really impressed during that season, and he had some really fine games for the then Spurs Under 23 side.

Scoring a fine brace against Liverpool’s Under 21 side at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium during that 2020/21 season, would have been a really memorable moment for Elliot. A versatile midfield player who is capable of playing in central midfield, as a CAM or out wide on the flanks as a winger, he is a player with good pace, a lot of skill and excellent movement off the ball. His ability to glide past players with skill and pace, make intelligent runs into space to receive the ball and also score goals, makes him a very difficult player to defend against, especially when playing as a CAM. He is also a really hard worker off the ball and someone who gives his all for his team, while playing the game with real creativity, and a smile on his face. Elliot left Spurs officially during the beginning of the 2021/22 season to join Championship side Luton Town a permanent basis. He made his competitive debut for Luton’s first team in an FA Cup fourth round tie with Cambridge United, providing an assist and impressing during his 69 minutes on the pitch, in a 3-0 win for Luton.

Elliot made three competitive appearances for Luton’s first team (this included his Championship debut) during the early stages of the current 2022/23 season, before joining League One side Burton Albion on a loan move. The former Spurs man would make seven appearances for Burton Albion before returning to Luton Town, and since returning to Luton he made one appearance for Luton, with that coming in an FA Cup fourth round tie with Grimsby Town, a game that Elliot started. Elliot is a player who I believe still has tremendous potential. His ability on the ball is excellent, while his work off the ball is similarly excellent, and with some luck and a really good run of games I’m confident that he would do really well. I’d like to wish Elliot all the very best of luck for the remainder of this season with Luton Town. He’s a player who I’ve always thought very highly of, and he is without doubt one of the friendliest footballers in the game, who always makes time for the fans. He is a top man and footballer!

Looking at how former Spurs Academy player Michael Craig is getting on in his footballing career:

19 year old central midfielder Michael Craig left Spurs just after the halfway point of last season (2021/22). The Barnet born professional footballer, who is the twin brother of current Spurs Under 21’s player Matthew Craig, is a Scotland Under 21 international. Formerly of Watford and Arsenal’s Academy, prior to joining the Spurs Academy set-up, Michael made his competitive debut for the Spurs Under 18 side in the 2018/19 season. He would sign scholarship forms with the club at the end of that season, and although he started the 2019/20 season well for the Spurs Under 18 side, he would pick up an injury early on in that season which would unfortunately rule him out for a year. He returned for Spurs’ Under 18 side as a second year scholar during the following season (2020/21), and Michael did well during that season, getting plenty of game time, and also debuting for the Spurs Under 23 side during that same season. 

Michael Craig made 11 competitive appearances for the then Spurs Under 23 side during his time at the club during the 2021/22 season. Always a player who I have thought highly of, and who is more than capable of influencing the game from central midfield, Michael mostly used to play slightly higher up the pitch in midfield, than his twin brother Matthew, at Spurs. Michael is a strong and assured midfield player, with good pace and great passing ability. He likes to push forward with the ball from midfield. After leaving Spurs early on in 2022, Michael Craig spent some time without a club, but he did trial with Southampton for a while, and would feature for them at B team level, in a Premier League 2 fixture. Later on in the season he featured for Reading’s Under 23 side, in the Premier League 2. And just last summer he signed for Reading on a permanent transfer. 

Making good progress with Reading during the current 2022/23 season, the former Spurs Academy player who appeared on the bench twice for Spurs’ first team during his time at the club, has featured again for the Reading Under 21 side on occasions this season. However, he has also impressively made five competitive appearances for the Reading first team this season. Michael made his competitive debut for the Reading first team as a late substitute in a first round Carabao Cup tie with Stevenage last August. Michael’s most recent first team appearance for Reading came at Old Trafford, in an FA Cup fourth round tie with Manchester United last month, as a second half substitute, in what must have been a memorable day for him. I would like to wish Michael all the very best of luck for the remainder of this season, and for his future in the game.

Looking back at former Spurs player Tony Smith’s footballing career:

Anthony Brian Smith was one of the finest youth teams prospects in the Spurs youth system during the 1950s/60s era. Born in Lavenham, Suffolk, on the 5th of October 1941, the talented centre-half who could also play at left-half, grew up in Royston, Hertfordshire. The player who once represented the old FA Youth XI, was as a schoolboy footballer, scouted by a number of top sides. Smith trialled with Millwall and even Manchester United for a time, before signing for Spurs, initially joining as an amateur in the summer of 1957. The defender would later sign professional forms with Spurs just under two years later. In those early days at Spurs, when Tony was playing for the talented Spurs Youth team, one of Tony’s teammates was a future Spurs Deputy Chairman, the late Tony Berry, and also future Spurs first team player Frank Saul. Part of the Spurs Youth sides which went on tour to Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands, to participate in tournaments, those early days at Spurs would have been memorable for Tony.

A highly skilful and vocal defender who read the game really well, Tony Smith is also remembered well by some of his old Spurs teammates, for his excellent ball juggling skills. After progressing up to the old Spurs A side, where he won a number of Eastern Counties League titles, Smith was soon playing regularly for the Spurs reserve side. In one such season (1961/62), Tony made 30 appearances for the Spurs reserve side in the Football Combination League (the second most appearances of anyone in the Spurs side), and that was a season which Spurs won the league in. Back in the October of 1959, Tony Smith would make the first of two first team appearances (in friendly matches). He was 18 when he debuted for the Spurs first team in a friendly against Reading. Smith made his other first team appearance in 1964, this time in a friendly with Leytonstone. He would remain a regular for the Spurs reserve side up until leaving the club in the spring of 1966.

Upon leaving Spurs, Tony Smith moved to South Africa to join a team called Southern Suburbs. Spending the rest of his footballing career in South Africa, the former Spurs man would also play for Addington (Spurs legend Peter Baker was the manager during that time), Durban Spurs, Durban United, Durban City and Hillary. Smith would later go into management, becoming the manager of South African side Bush Bucks for a time during the early 1980s. Although he didn’t get to play for the Spurs first team in a competitive fixture, owing to some of the international players in front of him at Spurs during the early 1960s, just like all of the Spurs  players who were at the club at that incredible time in it’s history, and who worked their way up the ranks at the club, Tony should be very proud of all that he achieved in his playing career. He was like others, very unlucky to not really have been given a chance with the first team at Spurs, but he was very highly thought of at the club, by teammates and coaches alike.

Tony Smith is now retired and still living in South Africa.

Looking at how former Spurs Academy player Jack Roles is getting on in his footballing career:

Versatile midfielder Jack Roles was at Spurs as an Academy player for many years, and was an important part of a very talented age group in the Spurs Academy set-up. A local lad from Enfield, and a boyhood Spurs supporter, who would have grown up watching the club. After signing scholarship forms with Spurs in the summer of 2015, Roles featured a lot for the Spurs Under 18 side over the course of his two seasons as a scholar with the club, and I thought that he did very well at that level, scoring some really important goals for them. He would make his competitive debut for the then Spurs Under 23 side fairly early on in the 2017/18 season, and although he wasn’t always a regular for the side during that season, Jack did score four goals in four games at one point during that season. As a CAM Jack Roles is a player whose excellent movement off the ball makes him very difficult to defend against. Equally as skilful and clever on the ball, Jack is capable of ghosting into the penalty area and scoring goals.

Jack Roles is capable of successfully scoring spectacular goals, and that is something that he has done throughout his career so far. The 23 year old is literally capable of scoring goals from pretty much anywhere on the pitch. It was the 2018/19 season that would have been a very memorable one for the former Spurs player, as he was consistently outstanding for the Spurs Under 23 side and the Under 19 side in the UEFA Youth League. He scored lots of goals that season and was without doubt one of the very best players in the Spurs Under 23 side. The player who has represented Cyprus up until Under 21 level in the past, would join then League Two side Cambridge United on loan for the 2019/20 season, after featuring for the Spurs first team in pre-season. Although he did have some trouble with injuries during that season, Jack still became a fans favourite during his time at the Abbey Stadium. Scoring five goals (some of those goals were finished with such outstanding technique) from 25 competitive appearances for Cambridge United, Jack would return to Spurs for the following 2020/21 season. 

Jack Roles would spend some time out on loan with Burton Albion and Stevenage during that 2020/21 season. Unfortunately however, he would leave Spurs at the end of his contract with the club at the end of the 2020/21 season, after spending 16 years with the club. Jack would then sign for Crystal Palace at the beginning of the following season, and would score a memorable goal for their Under 23 side against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, during his time there. He would later sign for National League side Woking, during that same season, after leaving Crystal Palace. He would make 24 competitive appearances for Woking, scoring two goals for them. And only very recently Jack Roles returned to the Football League, when he signed for Crawley Town. He made his debut for Crawley as a substitute in a League Two fixture against Gillingham at the weekend.

 I believe that this is a fantastic opportunity for Jack in the Football League. I also believe that he will be very important for Crawley, from now until the end of the season, as they battle to avoid relegation. Jack is a tremendous player who still has a lot to give to the game. He is also a great lad, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him rise through the leagues over the next couple of seasons.

Looking at how former Spurs Academy player Zenon Stylianides is getting on in his footballing career:

Zenon Stylianides signed scholarship forms with Spurs in the summer of 2014, and would go on to feature for the Spurs Under 18 side and Under 21 side over the next couple of seasons. A local lad to Spurs, Zenon Stylianides was a skilful, tenacious and very hardworking midfield player, and someone who was also versatile on the pitch, during his time with Spurs. Zenon also likes to score goals, and in recent seasons he has scored plenty of goals. Zenon would cover a good amount of positions for Spurs at Academy level, during his time at the club. Positions as varied as left-back, as a winger and in central midfield. Able to take players on for skill, tenacious off the ball and positive with it. Zenon Stylianides featured a lot for Spurs at Under 18 level, and was part of a very good side for Spurs at that level. He would of course also make the step up to the then Spurs Under 23 side, making a good number of appearances for them in his final season with the club (2016/17).

I particularly remember from that 2016/17 season, Zenon having some excellent games against Chelsea Under 23’s and Sunderland Under 23’s respectively. In the game against a Chelsea Under 23 side which included Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount, Stylianides performed his central midfield duties really well. Helping Spurs to record a 2-2 draw. In the other game against Sunderland (at home), Zenon again started the match in central midfield, and would put in a man of the match performance as Spurs won 1-0. That Sunderland game was to be one of Zenon’s last games for the Spurs Under 23 side, as he left the club at the end of that season. That summer he would join QPR’s Under 23 side. He would spend one season with the West London club, before signing for Cypriot side Omonia Aradippou (Zenon is eligible to represent Cyprus at international level). 

Omonia Aradippou, in the second tier of Cypriot football when Zenon joined them, were a club that he would spend one season with, before returning to England. Upon his return to England the former Spurs man spent a little bit of time without a club, but he has since played for a number of non-League sides. Sides that include East Thurrock, FC Romania, Cheshunt, New Salamis and currently Hertford Town. In one season with FC Romania, Zenon impressively scored 22 league goals for them. I actually fairly recently saw Zenon play for New Salamis. The team who play in the eighth tier of English football and who are based near to Spurs’ stadium, also recently had former Spurs Academy player Rayan Clarke playing for them for a short time. Zenon really stood out on a technical level in the game that I saw him play for New Salamis. Impressing with his skill and desire to go forward with the ball (he was playing in a more forward position in this particular game). I would like to wish Zenon all the very best of luck for the remainder of this season with Hertford Town.

Looking at how former Spurs Academy player Chay Cooper is getting on in his footballing career:

Chay Cooper is one of the most skilful players that I have seen play for Spurs at Academy level. From Harlow in Essex, and formerly of Southend United’s Academy set-up, winger Chay Cooper was at Spurs for a number of seasons as an Academy player, up until leaving the club at the end of the 2020/21 season. Mainly playing as a winger, Chay could also play in central-midfield or as a CAM. Another player who was a part of the very talented 2018/19 Academy first year group, Chay Cooper is a player with an excellent low centre of gravity. He is a very creative player, who is direct with the ball, and has tremendous ability to go past players with skill. Chay also has a real eye for goal, and he scored a good number of goals for Spurs at Academy level. Chay loves to test the goalkeeper from distance, and the player who first featured for the Spurs Under 18 side in 2018/19, would get a lot more game time for them in the following 2019/20 season. It was to be a season that I thought Chay excelled in for the Spurs Under 18 side.

Getting a good number of goals and assists during 2019/20, the then second year scholar Chay Cooper did really well during that season for Spurs. In the important FA Youth Cup fourth round tie away to Wigan Athletic, which Spurs lost 2-0. Chay unfortunately missed that game through injury, but such was the form that he was in that season for Spurs’ Under 18 side, I reckon that he could well have given  Spurs a much better chance of winning that game, had he played. After featuring for the Spurs Development side during the 2020/21 pre-season, Chay Cooper didn’t actually feature for the then Spurs Under 23 side that season, in competitive matches. He left Spurs at the end of 2020/21, and would go onto sign for League Two side Colchester United for the following season. A regular and very important player for Colchester’s Development side during that season, Chay scored an impressive 13 goals for the then Colchester Under 23 side. 

I attended one of the Colchester Under 23’s league matches (against Watford) during the 2021/22 season, and I thought that Chay was Colchester’s best player, in what were very windy conditions in Essex, on that day. The former Spurs man also made five competitive appearances for the Colchester United first team in 2021/22, scoring one goal and providing one assist from those matches. His goal, which came on the final day of the 2021/22 League Two season against Hartlepool, was yet another stylish and well taken goal. This season however, Chay hasn’t played a lot of football for Colchester, because of injury. He has made one appearance for Colchester’s first team, and some for their Under 21 side. And on his fairly recent return from injury he scored two goals for Colchester against Saffron Walden Town. Just this week it was announced that Chay had joined National League South side St Albans City, on loan until the end of the season. He could well make his debut for St Albans on Saturday afternoon, in their home league game against Hampton & Richmond Borough. 

I would like to wish Chay a very successful remainder of the season. I look forward to hopefully attending a St Albans game before the end of the season.

Some notes on Spurs’ very promising Academy goalkeeper Luca Gunter:

17 year old Spurs Academy goalkeeper Luca Gunter is a tall, very commanding, vocal goalkeeper, who has great reflexes and organisation skills. Previously with West London club QPR, Luca joined the Spurs Academy set-up a number of years ago now. And the Enfield born second year scholar has represented England at youth level for a number of years, and is a current England Under 18 international. Luca made his competitive Under 18’s debut for Spurs in the autumn of the 2021/22 season, and he had some really fine games in goal, before missing quite a lot of the second half of last season, because of injury. This season, and after making his first appearance for the Spurs Under 21 side in a pre-season friendly with Enfield Town, Luca has started all 16 competitive games that the Spurs Under 18 side have played so far this season, and he has been the captain of the side. Luca also made three appearances for the Spurs Under 19 side earlier on this season, a competition which he did well in. 

Luca Gunter is a commanding goalkeeper, and in the good number of games that I have seen him play for Spurs at Academy level, I have been impressed with his all-round goalkeeping. He is great at making reflex saves, organising his defence, and leading by example from inside his penalty area. He had a terrific game against Wolverhampton Wanderers last season in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup, making a great number of impressive saves, in a 3-0 loss for Spurs. He was without doubt Spurs’ best player in that game. He reads the game well, and is very good at rushing off his line to close down the angles to make that all important save. Also, Luca had an outstanding game in an Under 18 Premier League Cup fixture on his competitive debut for the Spurs Under 18 side last season, against Stoke City. A game in which he kept a clean-sheet in. So far this season he has kept five clean-sheets (four for the Spurs Under 18 side and one for the Spurs Under 19 side).

One of Luca’s finest games of this season came against his old club QPR in the third round of the FA Youth Cup. Unfortunately Spurs lost that game, but Luca had a very good match. He also really impressed against Marseille in the UEFA Youth League, keeping a clean-sheet in that game as well as making a number of important saves. As recent as the Spurs Under 18’s last competitive game (against Chelsea), Luca made a hugely important and excellent late save to stop a fine effort from winning the game for Chelsea. I’m looking forward to seeing how he progresses over the next couple of seasons. And I wish Luca all the very best of luck for the remainder of 2022/23.

Some notes on recent Spurs Academy signing Will Lankshear:

Although I don’t still write my match reports and attend the Spurs Academy matches, I’ve still managed to watch the vast majority of centre-forward Will Lankshear’s games for Spurs, since he made the move to the club from Sheffield United in the summer. The 17 year old second year scholar had previously been with Arsenal, before moving to Sheffield United’s Academy, where he scored a great number of goals for their Under 18’s, and also some for their Under 21 side as well. Lankshear has made seven competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side so far this season, scoring an impressive eight goals, and providing three assists. In addition to his appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side, Will has also made six appearances for the Spurs Under 21 side, and two appearances for the Spurs Under 19 side in the UEFA Youth League, scoring one goal for them from those two appearances. Lankshear is a strong centre-forward, whose movement off the ball is excellent and very effective in matches.

Will has really adapted well to Spurs’ playing style, in my opinion, since joining them last year. He has also put in some really good performances, as well, contributing far more than just goals. Reminding me a little bit of Troy Parrott, when he was the same age and playing for the Spurs Academy, Lankshear is really good at pressing the defenders. A very hard working centre-forward who can hold the ball up well, link the play and also most importantly score goals and create goals for his teammates. Lankshear worked so hard during his time on the pitch, in the Spurs Under 18’s recent Premier League South game against Chelsea on Saturday, and he did everything but score a goal, and he was unlucky not to get his goal in the end. Battling for every ball, making clever runs off it and also playing the game with a great intensity, Lankshear also managed to get the assist for Rio Kyerematen’s goal.

In another match, this time away to Crystal Palace (a game which Spurs won 3-1), Will Lankshear scored one goal and also created some good chances in that game. His hold-up play was good, and his strength on the ball and his intelligent movement off it, made him very difficult to defend against. Will has definitely started very well at Spurs, and having featured for the Under 21 side on a number of occasions already, as well as featuring twice for the Spurs first team in mid season friendly matches, are really good signs for the future for him at the club. Obviously he has also shown that he is a very good finisher inside the penalty area, and he has scored a good variety of goals so far this season. He will be a very important player for the Spurs Under 18 side when they face Manchester City on Saturday, in the quarter-finals of the 2022/23 Under 18 Premier League Cup.

My short piece on Spurs’ Academy defender Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and his excellent recent form for the Spurs Development side:

A player that I have written a number of articles on in recent years, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster (22), is a player who I have always thought very highly of, regardless of which position he plays in on the pitch. The versatile Islington born defender returned from a serious injury that he sustained in a Premier League 2 fixture against Blackburn Rovers last season, during this pre-season. However, Brooklyn only started his first competitive game for the Spurs Under 21 side in late September of last year, in a 4-0 Premier League 2 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion. Since that game he has almost always played in central defence, a position which he regularly used to play in for a number of years. Putting in a series of very impressive and influential performances for the Spurs Under 21 side, against the likes of Fulham, Manchester United, West Ham and Arsenal, Brooklyn has bounced back from his very unfortunate injury, to in my opinion become such an important member of the Under 21 side, and a real leader in the side as well.

It hasn’t just been the defensive blocks, the important challenges and the great reading of the game that he has shown, alongside his central defensive partner Malachi Fagan-Walcott. It has also been the maturity, responsibility and leadership that he has shown in every single game this season that he has played. And just like in Spurs’ first two wins of the season, against Liverpool and Arsenal respectively, in the last two matches. Brooklyn has been so important and influential in helping Spurs to get those all important victories, as they look to climb their way up the Division One table. He has unfortunately had three bad injuries since joining Spurs full-time in 2017, but every time he has returned stronger from those injuries, and he has slotted back into the Spurs Under 21 side as if he was never away in the first place. 

Watching those recent Premier League 2 games against West Ham, Liverpool and Arsenal, I thought that Brooklyn was the best player on the pitch in all three of those games. Such was his excellent reading of the game, the intensity that he has played the game at in central defence, and also his all-round defending and decision making. He was leading by example in the recent 2-0 win over Arsenal, and I noticed, although I don’t recall him making a sliding challenge, he read that match and anticipated what the Arsenal forwards were going to do with the ball, with such ease and style. Japhet Tanganga made his senior competitive debut for the Spurs first team fairly late in his development, and I would love to see 22 year old Brooklyn Lyons-Foster also get his chance at the top level for his boyhood club, at some stage in the near future. I have no doubts whatsoever, that he would step up and perform with real quality at the very highest level.

Looking at how former Spurs Academy player Rafferty Pedder is getting on, over a year since leaving Spurs to join QPR:

For a long while he was incredibly unlucky with injuries, during part of his time in the Spurs Academy set-up, prior to signing scholarship forms with the club in 2018. However, midfielder Rafferty Pedder showed great resilience after spending so long on the sidelines. He featured more times than any of his teammates for the Spurs Under 18 side in 2019/20, having made his competitive debut for Spurs at that level during the previous season. He would also feature on a good number of occasions for the then Spurs Under 23 side, over the next two seasons, before leaving the club to join West London club QPR, last January, on a permanent transfer. Having been at Spurs for so long, similar to Dilan Markanday, it would have been a very difficult decision for the Maidstone born footballer to leave the club. Rafferty is a versatile midfield player, who can play in central midfield, as a CAM or out wide on the flanks. A player who plays the game with a real desire to make the difference in matches, the 20 year old is a tremendous athlete, whose skill, determination and positivity on the ball, makes him a real joy to watch.

Rafferty is very good at linking the play, taking up good goalscoring positions, and at scoring and creating goals. He has in my opinion and from the games that I have seen him play for QPR’s B team, in the past year, really flourished. Doing well in matches that he played for the QPR B team in during the second half of last season. The former Spurs man scored two competitive goals for the B team last season, with both of them coming in a dramatic 3-2 win over Wigan Athletic, late on in that season. However, he has contributed far more than just his goals during his time at QPR so far, and the player who made his first team debut for them last pre-season in a friendly with Uxbridge, has already scored four goals for the QPR B team this season. And as I said, from the games that I have seen Rafferty involved in this season, it is his all-round play and ability to be decisive and always look to make that forward pass or take players on, which has made him really standout this season.

Rafferty also has an excellent low centre of gravity and a real amount of pace, and he never stops running. This season I have seen him have excellent games against the likes of Cardiff City, Brighton & Hove Albion and Colchester United’s Under 21 sides. That 2018/19 Spurs Academy intake were such a tremendously talented group of players, and Rafferty is just as good and has just as much potential as anyone in that group has, in my opinion. And I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him get a loan move at some point in 2023, or even feature for the QPR first team, as he has really impressed for the B team this season. On Friday night I will hopefully be watching Rafferty play for the QPR B team, as they take on AFC Bournemouth in an Under 21 Premier League Cup game.