When attacking midfielder Andy Turner netted late on to secure a 2-1 home win over Everton on September 5, 1992, he set the benchmark as the youngest player to score in the Premier League at 17 years and 166 days old.
Of course, that record has since been eclipsed a number of times but, for Andy, who is one of only a small handful of players to have represented Spurs and Rochdale over the years, it was a high point in a breakthrough campaign in which he made 21 of his overall 23 appearances for us, scoring four goals.
Spells on loan with Wycombe Wanderers, Doncaster Rovers, Huddersfield Town and Southend United followed but as his career path wove through Portsmouth, Crystal Palace, Wolves and Rotherham, he had his fair share of injury problems and, in a bid to regain some match fitness, headed to Spotland on loan from the latter club at the end of the 2000-01 campaign.
Again, injuries meant he only managed four appearances for Rochdale in the old Third Division between March and April, 2001, but nevertheless he’s got connections to both clubs involved in tonight’s FA Cup fifth round replay.
Not only that, he was on the books at non-league Chasetown when they enjoyed two magnificent runs in this competition in 2005 and 2008, reaching the first and third rounds respectively. We caught up with Andy, now 42, to hear about his memories…
What are your recollections of your time at Spurs in the early 1990s?
Andy: “I signed when I was leaving school. I was playing for National Schools in a South East Counties Division Two game against Aldershot and I broke my leg, so really I started at the club injured. It was at the same time as Paul Gascoigne damaged his knee, so it was surreal because I had probably the best player in the world in the same treatment room as me with a cruciate knee ligament injury!
“Things happened so quickly then. I got fit, had a bit of a spell in the youth team, then I was invited to a testimonial at Hull City for Garreth Roberts in 1992. I played, aged 17, and I think I made a good impression. During pre-season I was invited to go to Glynarthen with the squad and I was just going along with it but with the first game of the Premier League season at Southampton coming up, on the Thursday, Nayim got injured. We were just training and I got thrown a bib. Ray Clemence was doing the session, we had an 11-a-side game and one of the lads said to me, ‘I think you’re in, kid!’
“I was given my tracksuit but I didn’t expect to play – I thought I was just going along for the ride again. We got into the dressing room, the team was called out and my name was in there! I can’t remember anything about that game other than walking out while the teams were being announced. The one before me, everyone went wild, then my name – ‘number seven, Andy Turner’ – and it went silent, there were whispers in the crowd. Then it was ‘number eight, Gordon Durie’ and everyone went wild again!
“I hardly played any reserve team football that year – I went straight from the youth team to the first team. The highlight, apart from scoring my goals, was the FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester City at Maine Road where we won 4-2 and Nayim got a hat-trick. In the 15 minutes I was on, I won a penalty that Teddy Sheringham missed, I scored one that was disallowed which, to this day, I think was on-side and there was a pitch invasion which was quite scary. My biggest disappointment was missing out when we played Arsenal at Wembley in the semi-finals. I was in the squad but didn’t make the bench, although for an 18-year-old to have done all I did that season, looking back, I couldn’t really be disappointed. My time at Spurs was amazing and the memories never leave you.”
Above: Andy celebrates scoring for us against Oldham in 1993.
How did you end up at Rochdale?
Andy: “I went to Portsmouth from Tottenham, but I dislocated my ankle and tore all my ligaments. I had an abnormality in that ankle so it stopped me playing how I had been – the balance changed in my body because of the structure of my ankle. I played on, but I kept getting different injuries as my body compensated for it. I went to Rotherham from Wolves and had a really good time, but during the second year I had a lot of injuries and I wanted to get back playing, so I went to Rochdale at the back end of the 2000-01 season. They were in Division Three at the time, going for the play-offs. They had some great players – Paul Ware played in the middle of the park, Tony Ford, who was 41 at the time but was like a 21-year-old running around, Keith Hill – their current manager – was playing as well but we just missed out on the play-offs at the end of the season, drawing at Plymouth. It’s a great club with great people and I benefitted from my time there.”
What are you doing these days?
Andy: “About eight or nine years ago I started a non-league academy in the Midlands and I continue to run a 16- to 19-year-olds’ academy where the players do their education and play their football, under the banner of Pro Direct Academy in Birmingham. Also I’m an Under-13 academy coach at Port Vale and I help out the local non-league side, Shepshed Dynamo, on the management team on a Saturday because I know the manager from my time working at another non-league club, Coalville Town, a few years ago.”
Read more from Andy Turner in tonight’s official matchday programme – on sale around Wembley Stadium for £3.50…