Monday, 7 March 2011


I walked up the plush carpeted stairs and his secretary asked me to wait a minute. I sat outside his office and contemplated what I was going to do with the rest of my life when a head popped outside a door and in a broad Yorkshire accent the top man himself beckoned me in. By now nerves were replaced with anger and a tinge of arrogance at the thought of my release after I had worked my b******s off. Everything seemed to move in slow motion as he asked me to sit down and if I wanted a tea or coffee. I’m sure he just said ‘I was going to be a pro’. He did! Keith Burkinshaw asked me if I wanted to be a professional footballer for Tottenham Hotspur! He offered me a 2 year contract with more money than I had ever known. I didn’t know what to say or do so I thanked him and walked out. I was the youngest at the club to sign Pro, literally a week after my 17th birthday. There was a little jealousy and resentment from some apprentices but the majority were well pleased having known the journey I had been on. When I told my parents my Mum cried and Dad’s eyes were glazed because this was 17 years in the making and now to become a Pro at this level was my destiny and an opportunity to become 'Roy of the Rovers'.

At Spurs it was a great club to train at everyday and the Management’s forward thinking was progressive with the cosmopolitan squad of players. It really was a European-style environment with a South American influence. Growing up there had a massive effect on my football thinking. Watching and training with superstars was a privilege but as far as gaining access in to the first team that was a different matter. Tottenham had some highly talented youngsters but trying to leap-frog such legends as Ossie Ardiles, Ricky Villa, Glenn Hoddle, Steve Perrymen, Steve Archiblad, Garth Crooks and Terry Yorath was nigh on impossible. Older pro’s than myself such as Micky Hazard, Gary Brooke, Graham Roberts, Gary O’Reilly and Stuart Beavon were finding it hard enough but that didn’t matter because time was on my side and I had a lot to learn.

You really knew you were at a great club when one Pre-Season a long dark-haired, unshaven, tanned, tall, good-looking geezer walked through the car park with a gorgeous blonde on his arm. He was there to get fit and catch up with his old South American compadres. A few years after his Player of the Tournament and winning the World Cup with Argentina the one and only Mario Kempes was gracing the training ground!!! Having all these great players around you really instils your footballing principles and it was a dream to be on the inside.

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