In September, 2011 in two articles on my previous blog, I raised the question of the lack of success of young players coming through Tottenham’s youth system. Recently added comments, I’m pleased to say, report that Tottenham’s new training facilities at Brent Cross are of great benefit to the Academy players.
The first article queried where the Tottenham Academy players had gone and pointed out that few of the Spurs youth players ever progressed to the first team. The opening and closing paragraphs pointed out the seriousness of the situation.
‘Tottenham Hotspur spends vast sums of money each year to discover, train and support young players through their Academy system but their 25-man squad for this season [2011-12] includes only two players who have progressed to the first team by that route – Ledley King and Jake Livermore.’
‘In the past twenty years the only Academy/youth players to have established themselves at the club are Nick Barmby, Sol Campbell, Ian Walker, Steven Clemence, Stephen Carr and Ledley King. Perhaps, some of the current ‘hopefuls’ with the Academy will change that situation in the coming years.’Since writing those articles it’s very pleasing to note that some of the current younger players have made it into the Tottenham squad and are contributing to the present rise in Tottenham’s fortunes. The Cup competitions and Europa League have provided opportunities for them to display their talent and all have shown considerable ability but it will still take a great deal of hard work to become established in the first team. Steven Caulker, Tom Carroll and Andros Townsend have had the greatest opportunities in that time while others when called upon especially in the Europa League matches performed with confidence and at a high level against teams with considerably more experience. Caulker has made a scoring debut for Englandwhile Livermore made a substitute appearance at full international level last season.
Tottenham’s new training centre, Hotspur Way, opened just under a year ago and three parents with sons training at the Tottenham Academy responded to the article in a very positive way, praising the standard of the facilities and acknowledging the boost that they will give Tottenham in attracting the best young players to the club. I thank each of them for their comments and report them as they were forwarded to me.
Attract the best!
(1) ‘My son plays in the foundation group of elite players at the Spurs Academy at Bulls Cross new training centre. He is currently too young to sign with the club.
I’ve been able to see first hand that Spurs are indeed creating world class players for the future. The Under-9 to Under-14 groups are jaw dropping to watch, the technique and speed is hard to take in for kids so young. What will these lads be like at 18 years old? Exciting times ahead if you are a Spurs fan (I am not). The new training facility is world class and currently the best in the country no question so it will attract the best talent.’
(2) ‘My son is in the Under-9 squad at Spurs. The facilities will attract the best talent and the coaching (although frustrating to watch sometimes) is consistent and very well planned.
What is also overlooked is the fantastic set up for Goalkeepers at Spurs. I have yet to see better talent at any other Academy. I guarantee they will produce a world class keeper in the next 10 years.’
1st Choice – Tottenham!(3) ‘The new facility is already paying off for the Academy boys, in particular with recruitment at the foundation stage. Previously the club would fight the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea for the best players within their catchment area and this could be a real battle. Now with the world-leading facilities and the extensive recruitment of more qualified coaches they can attract the best players. Where as previously Spurs may sign 16 boys at Under-9, only 5 or 6 of these boys would have been on their initial hit-list, the remaining 10 would be the best of those left from not being signed by Arsenal and Chelsea. Now it’s the other way round – the best are picking Spurs, then leaving Arsenal and Chelsea to pick up the best of the rest.
I’ve seen first hand the current Under-7s and Under-8s (pre-Academy elite boys) at all of these clubs and trust me Spurs have the most impressive looking boys technically. They might not be match winners at this age but you can see their squad already have some kids that have core skills that would embarrass most decent adult players. With Arsenal and Chelsea they seem more attracted to bigger match winning players now rather than looking forward long term.
Ajax in their hay-day made a point of signing smaller technical players at a very young age to perfect their ball control under pressure, when they caught up in size at age 12 or 13, they destroyed any opposition in their way as their ball control was just too good and too quick for the opponents who didn’t have to work as hard as these smaller boys had to work because their physical size and strength meant they didn’t have to.
Spurs have picked up on this, look at the Spanish players now, none of those players would have been signed by EPL players at Academy level as they would have been too small and that’s a fact. We are years behind in this country in recognising talent early and progressing it for the long term results not short term rewards.
A good future ahead.’
‘The Future’s Bright – It’s Lilywhite’
It’s always interesting to chart the progress of young players as they come through the youth system and then make it into the first team. I remember Joe Kinnear’s first game, Steve Perryman’s debut, Paul Miller making his debut against Arsenal and so the list goes on.
For the past three summers it was very enjoyable to watch the Tottenham Under-16 team competing at the Northern Ireland Milk Cup. The young players gave a very good account of themselves. Every player was very comfortable on the ball and all were expected to play football in a passing and controlled way. It was very impressive to see the boys competing against older boys and holding their own.
Some of those players have progressed to the Tottenham Under-21 team during the past three years – Laste Dombaxe, Dominic Ball, Reuben Lamieras and Kenneth McEvoy to name just a few. Many of last year’s squad will be starting out as 1st Year scholars at the Academy – Harry Voss, Cy Goddard and Luke Amos and we wish them all well for the future.
Talking to two parents who have sons training with Tottenham, they too were delighted with the way Tottenham has been developing their Academy in recent years. The new training facilities are fantastic and it’s great to know that players of all ages are benefiting from the opportunity to train there every day.