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*Loan Boy - Stephen Kelly

Posted on 21 March 2003  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Stephen Kelly reports that he is thoroughly enjoying his loan spell at Southend United and hopes that it will act as a stepping stone towards first team football at Spurs.

Since joining the Roots Hall outfit at the beginning of February, the speedy central defender has featured in eight games for the Shrimpers and, during a period of mixed results, was described by manager Rob Newman as 'one shining light' of the team.

"It's great to hear stuff like that, especially with the way the team has been playing," beamed the Republic of Ireland under-20 international, who this week signed a new contract with Spurs. "I've been doing okay and it is great to hear a comment like that from the manager."

Stephen's loan spell was extended for a further month due to the World under-20 Championships, that were due to take place in the UAE at the end of the March, being postponed due to pending action in the region.

He is, however, happy to have the chance to further his first team experience.

"It's been really good to get some first team football under my belt. The results haven't been really good, but I've enjoyed it.

"You come up against bigger, stronger players and get bashed about a bit more than you do in the reserves - it's good to learn.

"It is quicker and you don't get as much time on the ball. There is more passion and stuff in the game and players close you down. You don't get time to play at the back and you have to play it into midfield or hit the front man.

"I am gutted not to be going to the championships, but hopefully they will be rescheduled. It does mean I can stay at Southend a bit longer and it has been great.

"I've learned quite a bit, dealing with different types of centre forwards than I've been used to and you have to handle yourself a bit more."

Stephen has had the chance at Southend to play in his favoured central defensive position, one that was not always afforded to him at Spurs when he played in a defence alongside Ronnie Henry and Paul O'Donoghue.

He did harbour slight doubts over whether he would be strong enough to cope in that position in league football, but has overcome such fears even though a few centre-forwards have made an impression on his nose.

"It's gone quite well, fortunately. I thought I might struggle for strength, but it has been good to be there rather than right-back or right wing-back.

"I've had a few forwards giving me a bash, had some nosebleeds but no broken nose yet."

The experience that players sent out on loan appear to enjoy the most is playing in front of a crowd for points that really mean something - Stephen is no different.

"It's good to play in front of a crowd. Very good when they get behind you, but you have to deal with it when they don't get behind you. If the team isn't doing well they can get on your back and it is a case of coping with that.

"I guess if you can cope with three thousand you might be able to cope with 30,000 - a big difference, but a starting point."

And it is playing in front of over 30,000 that Stephen soon hopes to doing when he returns to the Spurs fold.

"Hopefully when I come back I will be pushing for the first team here, that is the whole idea. I need to keep progressing and get the experience I need."