It was a weird day, my mate Simon Webster (ex Huddersfield, Sheffield Utd, Charlton and West Ham) and myself were not selected in the reserve team squad for a midweek game at the training ground and I suppose we half knew what was coming but you always live in hope of a stay of execution. ‘Webbo’ and I was in training kit ‘pinging’ a few balls to each other when Peter Shreeves came over to both of us and broke the news that we were not in his plans and that we would be released at the end of the season. I don’t really remember his exact words because of feeling so numb. We had been at Spurs for nearly ten years. We had gone from schoolboys to pro’s, from under 14’s to 1st team and grown from boys to men. We were part of the furniture and now he was removing us.
That feeling of rejection is awful, but you can handle it because football teaches you from a very young age to cope with the ups and downs. By far the worst aspect is telling family and friends about your departure because they really take it to heart and feel the pain.
Once you get over the rejection a funny emotion sweeps over you in the guise of confidence. You come to terms with the fact that you are leaving so you decide to enjoy the time you have left. There is no pressure anymore and you can relax and play with almost a ‘couldn’t care less’ arrogance. You have nothing to prove except to yourself that you are still a good player and its only one person’s opinion and who is to say he is correct anyway.
I had 3 or 4 months left of my contract and because you are not going to be the future you end up playing in all different positions to fill in gaps when there are injuries or suspensions. To be fair I seemed to always be playing at right-back a lot of the time. I can remember clearly that my confidence was very high and I knew I was playing some exceptional football. Going from Mid-field to full-back was like smoking a cigar with a large brandy because of the amount of time you had on the ball. In one particular reserve game at White Hart Lane we were fielding a reasonably young side against virtually West Hams first team. They hadn’t had a game on the Saturday so put out a strong team for a run out during the week. I was right back, we won 3-1 and I had one of those ‘Midas’ days with probably one of my best games ever. After the game in the changing rooms, I was being told how exceptional I had been. Even first team players who watched the match were singing my praises. Peter Shreeves walked through the door and came straight to me and sat down. For one split second I really thought he was going to say that he had changed his mind and wanted me to stay. Instead, all he did was have a go at me for juggling the ball outside my own penalty area. He did go on to say that I had played well but I couldn’t believe what he had said in the first place. I think he was annoyed and slightly embarrassed that I was playing so well and maybe his judgement was called in to question.
Leaving Spurs was like losing a close friend because of our history together. Everyone knew you so well because they had seen you grow up. People knew each other’s families and a lot of relationships were born at the club. My most formative years were coming to an end and now I was embarking on a new journey.