TJ and Tashan were part of the Young Lions squad that lifted the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in India over the weekend, coming back from 2-0 down to thrash Spain 5-2 in a thrilling final.
Right-back TJ, who was on the bench in the final after featuring against Brazil in the semis, couldn’t keep the smile off his face when he and Tashan returned to Hotspur Way with their winners’ medals today (Tuesday 31 October).
And he was quick to explain how a chat with 20-year-old full-back Kyle, who won the Under-20 World Cup along with on-loan Josh Onomah earlier this year, provided some added encouragement ahead of what he described as a tough tournament campaign.
“I’m over the moon, it’s a great feeling and I feel like I’ve done my family – and hopefully the country – proud,” beamed the 17-year-old. “I thought we were worthy winners. It was a difficult tournament but we played in our style, played well, stuck to the game plan and scored the goals to win it.
“Tash did very well – he contributed massively to the team with good passes and good overall play. Tash actually spoke to Kyle before we left and he gave us some extra motivation, saying that they (England Under-20s) won it, so we had to win it! He told us to prepare well for every game and take in the whole experience.”
While Tashan started all but one of England’s seven matches, TJ made three appearances overall.
“I was delighted to start the first two games, but it was obviously disappointing that I was suspended for the third match and then I jarred my knee in training when I blocked a shot before the last 16 game against Japan,” he explained.
“It was disappointing that I got injured but against Brazil I was able to play and it was a good experience for me. It was a big deal, playing against a top side and us getting the win. We have a good team with good players that score goals. We scored at least three goals in all the games except one and that was very important – I thought it put fear into the other teams. Scoring goals was a big factor in our performance.”
Having seen off Spain in Saturday’s final, TJ is now back with our Academy as we prepare for another tough test against Spanish opposition – Real Madrid Under-19s in the UEFA Youth League on Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s a big game,” said the defender, whose older brother AJ played against us for Arsenal in the Premier League 2 last week.
“Obviously the boys drew 1-1 in Madrid a couple of weeks ago but hopefully we can get the win and produce some good performances this time. That’s what it’s about for me – hopefully I can push on from here now, play some games, put on good performances and keep progressing.”