Kyle Walker-Peters is 20 now and remembers those days fondly.
“I used to play for Winchmore Hill as a young boy and (with mates) literally on the street in and around Tottenham,” he reflected after signing a new deal at the Club until 2020 this week.
“We never went to the park, we used to use people’s hedges as goals. To be fair, luckily, my neighbours knew who I was and knew that I really did enjoy playing football, so a lot of the time they let me off!”
Below: Kyle with Mauricio
It was suggested those neighbours might have let him off as he’d play for Spurs one day. “Yes, I think that was what everyone was saying!” he smiled.
“The good thing is I went around to see a lot of them, Tottenham fans who watched the Newcastle game and it’s nice to make people that you care about proud.”
Kyle’s dreams came true all at once at St James’ Park on August 13. At the Club since the age of 11 and a regular on the training pitch with Mauricio Pochettino’s squad for the best part of 18 months, Kyle started at right-back in our Premier League opener against Newcastle.
He helped the team keep a clean sheet, played his part in a 2-0 win and was then named Man of the Match by broadcasters Sky Sports.
Below:Kyle in action against Newcastle
Of course, it’s one senior game. Kyle is well-aware of that. But he’s also proof that it can be done, that young footballers in and around the Tottenham area can one day play for Spurs.
“Obviously it’s good for the community, to show them that someone from that area...all it takes is hard work and dedication and you can make something of yourself,” he said.
“I did that with the help of my parents, Dennis and Mary. They always tried to keep me grounded and they’ve always made sure that I’ve been smart with the decisions I make. They have kept me on a good path.
“My dad always used to say ‘education before football’ which I guess is a good foundation to have because things like that are important and once you’ve got that right, you push that to the side and then you can really focus on your football.
Below: World Cup winners - Kyle with Josh Onomah
“That’s what I did when I got to the age of 16. I made sure I got good grades and then I was able to solely focus on my football and that really did help me.”
A World Cup winner with England Under-20s in the summer, Kyle has made his debut, signed his new deal and is now knuckling down. Essentially, his career starts here.
“I agree, once you’ve set a high standard for yourself, the hard part is then maintaining it and really pushing yourself to improve,” he said.
“You don’t want to become comfortable and think, okay, I’ve made one appearance, I did well...I’ve put that appearance to the back of my mind. It’s always something I’ll look back on but now it’s about the next appearance and to continue learning.”
Below: Kyle with Eric Dier and Ben Davies in training
So how did the lad who pinged football against the hedges as a kid in Tower Gardens Road feel about stepping out in our new stadium next season?
“I couldn’t even describe the feeling. I guess it will be another dream come true. I’ve seen all the developments and what it’s going to look like. Playing at a place like that is going to be incredible and I do hope to fulfil that dream.