Toni shared his inspirational story of being part of Spain’s squad in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, where he played all six games as they won the gold medal for men’s football.
The youngsters, aged 13-19, are part of the Foundation’s Kicks programme in Haringey and Walthamstow which uses football and the value of sports participation to promote the importance of education and employment among disadvantaged young people in the local community.
Having demonstrated a clear passion for football, the youngsters were given the opportunity to put their questions to Toni about what it was like to play in the Olympics, the level of commitment required from players and what it felt like to stand on the podium after the final as an Olympic champion.
Toni said: “At the time I knew as a team we had achieved something great but over the years my joy of winning has turned into pride.
“Growing up I used to play football near my home all the time and knew at an early age I wanted to be a goalkeeper.
“Speaking to the young people I have met today, they all seem very passionate about playing so my advice for them is to continue to work hard, get a good education and follow their dreams.”
Eduardo Espitia, a participant from Tottenham Hotspur Foundation’s Kicks programme, said: “Most of my family are from Spain so when I told them I was meeting Toni Jimenez they were very excited for me. We’ve all been following the Olympics closely and hearing Toni’s story was truly inspiring. I’m thankful for the advice Toni gave me and know it will help me both on and off the pitch.”
After the Q&A, the participants were given access to the world-class facilities at Hotspur Way where they took part in a training session delivered by Foundation coaches.
Richard Allicock, Community Development Manager, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, said: “Events like the Olympics can leave a lasting impression on young people and this is something we’ve witnessed across many of our programmes.
“For the participants, meeting an Olympic gold medallist and getting the chance to have a kick-around at the Club’s Training Centre is an experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Creating positive experiences through sport goes a long way to inspire young people to work hard and think about their futures.”