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Meet Lars Hirschfeld

Posted on 4 May 2002  - 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).

There has been something of a transatlantic twang coming from the direction of the Spurs goalkeeper department in recent weeks.

Kasey Keller, of course, has been on senior call since Neil Sullivan suffered a severely bruised hip, while his understudy for a few games on bench and then reserve duty also speaks more Greg Rusedski than Tim Henman.

The keeper in question is Canadian Lars Hirschfeld, a trialist seeking to gain further experience and make a name for himself in the English game from Calgary Storm.

But Lars is no rookie exponent in the art of shot-stopping, he enjoyed a two-year spell in Germany playing for Energie Cottbus and is a full Canadian international of seven caps standing.

The 23-year-old arrived at the club in March for an initial trial period and had that spell extended until the end of the season. He was earlier impressed at Portsmouth, but a failure to agree a fee for his services between Pompey and Storm saw that potential move fall through.

"I am trial after being at Pompey for a bit," said Lars at Spurs Lodge. "It looked like things were working out quite well down there. It looked like it was going to go through, but the clubs couldn't come to an agreement.

"I then came here as one of my trainers knew someone here. Basically, right now, I am here on a trial basis until the end of the season."

Lars is working with Hans Segers and the senior goalkeepers at the training ground and is very much enjoying his stay so far. He was involved for the first time at the Lane for the Easter Monday win over Leeds and it certainly made an impression on him.

"It's really good and he's really helping me out with my game and I'm looking forward to another good solid month of it.

"It's really great for me here, the guys are treating me really good. It's a great atmosphere, Leeds was my first day at White Hart Lane - it's a brilliant ground and the fans are really great. I'm having a good time."

It is all very different to his homeland, 'like night and day' as Lars puts it. He is currently his national team's No.1, but he explains that this might not last if a familiar face to English football makes a comeback.

"Right now I am. If Craig Forrest comes back I might get relegated back to number two.

"Soccer takes a back seat in North America, there are a lot of other sports that have more priority so it's like night and day!"

Lars' Spurs baptism of fire came in the reserve encounter against Arsenal at Stevenage where he played well, but was unfortunately on the receiving end of a 4-1 defeat.

"It was. It was interesting to see - I didn't expect to see so many fans there for a reserve game. You could tell that the fans kinda had a disliking for each other right off the bat.

"It was kind of a shock letting in four goals. It was good, but letting in four was not really the best way to start out."

He followed this up with a stunning display in the 1-0 away win over Watford at Vicarage Road the following week.

"It was a lot better, we were playing away and their was less pressure. I already had my first game under my belt.

"You also get used to the guys in front of you and that was the major thing, actually calling them by name. I think they got used to me a little bit as well.

"They did hit the bar and came close a couple of times - some days it just goes that well."

After that display Lars was promoted to the first team bench for the trip to Middlesbrough following injury to Sully and has stayed their for the Leeds and Arsenal games. It is a promotion he didn't really expect, but he is using it as a learning curve.

"It's been really good. Obviously when I came here I didn't expect to be sitting on the bench for the first team in a Premiership match. It was a very good experience to see the kind of preparation that the guys take into a game.

"It's basically helped me put stuff into perspective for myself," Lars revealed, before explaining that he would love to stay in English football and build on his previous experience in Germany.

"Definitely. I've been abroad already before, I was in Germany for two years Energie Cottbus, who were in the second Bundesliga at the time. I was basically fighting for the back-up spot all the time.

"The situation was that in the year we got promoted they offered me an extension to my contract. But it seemed to me that it wasn't a place where I thought would better myself, not a place where I thought I would play.

"I went back to North America where I knew I would get some solid playing time, a good 40 games over about five months."

It seems that homesickness is not an issue to the quietly spoken young keeper.

"Actually, no. I'm pretty used to not being at home and stuff like that, it's no problem. I'm pretty self-sufficient and I get along.

"I've got to use this experience the best I can and hope something turns out from it."

By Richard Hubbard