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In profile: Every Academy graduate's first team debut in 2016-17

30 May 2017|Tottenham Hotspur

It's been another successful season for our Academy graduates, with some new faces also emerging from the ranks to make their senior debuts.

While Harry Kane, Danny Rose, Harry Winks, Josh Onomah and, in the first half of the campaign prior to his transfer to Swansea, Tom Carroll all continued to play their part at the top level, we also saw five more youngsters step up into competitive first team action in our colours for the first time, plus a host more in our pre- and post-season friendlies.

Here's a run-down of which Academy players made their first team debuts in 2016-17…

Cameron Carter-Vickers

Spurs 5-0 Gillingham
September 21, 2016
Start, played 90 minutes

After impressing during the pre-season period of 2016 and earning praise from boss Mauricio Pochettino, then 18-year-old central defensive powerhouse Cameron Carter-Vickers was named on the bench in our opening four Premier League games of the season.


Our home tie with Gillingham in the third round of the EFL Cup in September yielded an opportunity to play a senior competitive game for the first time and he didn't disappoint, stepping in to partner Kevin Wimmer at centre-half and helping to keep a clean sheet over the course of the 90 minutes.

“It’s a dream come true!” he told Spurs TV at the time. “I’ve been working hard for all these years to get to this stage so to play and win 5-0, it’s fantastic. I got a little nervous when I found out I’d be starting but I think that helped me. It kept me on my toes and it was good for me. Now I’m going to keep my head down, keep working hard at the training ground and try to push on.”


Cameron went on to play four times in all competitions – twice in the EFL Cup and twice in the early rounds of our run to the FA Cup semi-finals – in addition to turning out twice for our Under-23s in the Premier League 2.

He's currently away on international duty with the US Under-20s at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in South Korea.

Marcus Edwards

Spurs 5-0 Gillingham
September 21, 2016
Substitute, replaced Vincent Janssen on 75 minutes

Another player to have enjoyed a cameo role in pre-season, then 17-year-old Marcus Edwards took his place on the bench for the first time when we entertained Gillingham in the EFL Cup in September.

Introduced in place of Vincent Janssen with 15 minutes remaining with the score already at 5-0, he caused the visitors' defence problems with his positive running and almost made it a dream debut in stoppage time when he went on a marvellous jinking burst and let fly from 20 yards, only for goalkeeper Stuart Nelson to tip his effort over the bar with a fine save.


“I was excited!” he said afterwards. “The other lads have been great as well – it’s like a family environment, we’re all friends and we all know each other personally. Now we’ve got (our chances), it only makes us hungrier for more.”

An ankle injury caused Marcus to miss several weeks of action in the middle of the campaign, while he ended the season having scored five goals in 10 appearances for our Under-23s in the Premier League 2.

Anton Walkes

Spurs 5-0 Gillingham
September 21, 2016
Substitute, replaced Ben Davies on 80 minutes

Picking up some match minutes during our summer friendlies, versatile defensive player Anton Walkes earned his competitive debut as a 19-year-old as a late substitute in the EFL Cup victory over Gillingham at White Hart Lane.

While he'd been more accustomed to playing central defensive or central midfield roles in our development squad and academy sides in previous seasons, he'd also shown his ability to put in a shift at left-back, particularly during our run to the FA Youth Cup semi-finals in 2014-15, and it was there that he got his opportunity against the Gills.


Replacing Ben Davies for the last 10 minutes, he relished the chance to test himself against a men's team as we defended our 5-0 lead in the latter stages.

“It was a pleasure to get out there and get some minutes under my belt,” he said at the time. “Getting that experience today, playing in such a great team with my academy team-mates getting on and some even starting was unbelievable. I was so anxious (before coming on). I was doing my stretches, looking over, glancing and hopefully waiting for the nod.”

Anton went on to link up with MLS new boys Atlanta United on loan and has so far played twice in America.

Shayon Harrison

Liverpool 2-1 Spurs
October 25, 2016
Substitute, replaced Georges-Kevin Nkoudou on 83 minutes 

On target in our pre-season victory over Inter Milan in Oslo, Norway, development squad striker Shayon Harrison picked up his first taste of senior competitive action in an intense environment at Anfield in October.

Trailing 2-1 to Liverpool in the fourth round of the EFL Cup, we needed a goal to stay in the competition and, as such, Mauricio Pochettino threw on an additional front man in the form of the 19-year-old.


Three minutes from time, the youngster almost found himself in on goal, but he couldn't quite bring Erik Lamela's cross-field pass under control in space in the right channel and unfortunately the chance ran away from him.

“It’s a bit surreal to be honest,” he reflected after the match. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and now it’s finally arrived I’m very, very happy. It’s just a disappointing result of course. It was a great atmosphere though and it was everything I expected to be honest – I was just really relishing the moment. The chance I had was a bit unfortunate and I’m disappointed with it but I’m still happy that I got out there.”


Shayon subsequently joined Yeovil Town on loan in January and played 15 games for them, scoring once.

Filip Lesniak

Leicester City 1-6 Spurs
May 18, 2017
Substitute, replaced Mousa Dembele on 85 minutes

The oldest of all our Academy debutants this term at 21 years of age, defensive midfielder Filip Lesniak was named on the senior bench for the first time alongside 18-year-old Samuel Shashoua when we travelled to Leicester City on the penultimate matchday of the season.

Having spent the first half of the season on loan at Czech side Slovan Liberec, where he made three appearances including a Europa League qualifier, the Slovakian Under-21 international captained our Under-23s in the Premier League 2 in the latter months of the campaign before realising his dreams with a Premier League appearance against the Foxes.


Replacing Mousa Dembele with five minutes left and the score at 4-1, he ventured forward and provided the assist for Harry Kane's hat-trick goal, before watching on as the striker added a fourth to his tally to complete a resounding 6-1 win.

“Football is amazing!” he told us afterwards. “Three days ago I played for the Under-23s at Old Trafford and now I’m standing here having made my Premier League debut. It’s special, incredible. I felt good and was really excited to get on, for some reason I don’t really get nervous before the games. I was just super-excited and I want to say a big thank-you to the gaffer for giving me this amazing opportunity to make my Premier League debut.”

Filip was subsequently on the bench again for our final-day thrashing of Hull City, before starting in our post-season friendly win over Kitchee SC in Hong Kong.

Other Academy debuts in pre- and post-season friendlies

Luke Amos
Juventus 2-1 Spurs
July 26, 2016
Substitute, replaced Dominic Ball on 79 minutes

Dominic Ball
Juventus 2-1 Spurs
July 26, 2016
Start, played 79 minutes

Will Miller
Juventus 2-1 Spurs
July 26, 2016
Start, played 45 minutes

Kazaiah Sterling
Kitchee SC 1-4 Spurs
May 26, 2017
Substitute, replaced Vincent Janssen on 69 minutes
Scored on 90+1 minutes