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Youth Profile - Liam Francis

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).

A trial with his favourite club must have been the furthest thing from Liam Francis' mind when, as an 11-year-old, his Sunday League side had just lost a cup final 6-1.

But the young Spurs fan was unaware that scout Micky Hazard was in the small crowd that day and had seen enough glimpses of raw talent to invite Liam down for a short trial.

"Micky spoke to my parents and asked if I would like to train in the ball court at the Club," says Liam. "But they kept it quiet from me and I had no idea until I turned up at the club gates."

Liam's trial went well, he was signed on to our youth set-up and played for our schoolboy sides until making the next step up last summer, when he joined the Club full-time as part of our Under-17 intake.

"My whole family are Tottenham fans and I can't describe how I felt when I joined, it's like a dream come true," he says.

"I've been here for quite a while now, but obviously coming in full-time is a lot different," says the 16-year-old left-back. "During the summer I tried to prepare myself for it, I worked hard and mentally I told myself that it was going to be really difficult training all the time. So when I arrived and started playing and training every day, I was able to cope with it and that helped me."

Results have been indifferent for our Under-17s so far this season but, as Liam explains, our young players know it's not always about final scores and league positions.

"We've had some disappointing results, but in some matches we get it together and everything goes well. But we're always being told it's all about progressing. No-one likes to lose, but the coaches say that if we play really well and lose, they're okay but they are less pleased when we play poorly and lose.

"From a personal point of view I feel like I've improved a lot, my touch is getting better and I feel I've progressed well since the summer. My aims are to just keep going in the right direction."

Despite his allegiance to Spurs, Edmonton-born Liam admits to casting more than a brief glance across north London when looking for role models. He has watched Arsenal's Ashley Cole with interest over the last few years and would like nothing more than to emulate the England defender.

"Although I'm a Spurs fan and he plays for Arsenal, he is a young player in my position who has successfully come through the youth system to play for his country," Liam explains. "He plays the game the way I want to play it and I hope I can make as big an impact here as he has done there."

As well as football, Liam also excelled at athletics when he attended Aylward School. He was the Borough of Enfield cross country and 1,500m champion in 1998 and he believes that his strength in that sport has helped his game.

"The stamina and fitness I built up in athletics does help my football," he says. "I'm not necessarily the quickest but I think I'm fit. It might not help much for the first 70 minutes of a match but I feel good in the final 20 minutes and that's when it shows."

For now though, Liam is just concentrating on progressing and improving his game. "I got a good report from the coaches before Christmas, which was pleasing," he reveals. "There were things in there that I need to concentrate on which you expect, so I'll take them on board and keep working hard."

Liam came to us full-time last June and worked really, really hard at his game but obviously he still has a lot to work on. One thing we have noticed about him is that he does sometimes lose his concentration, if he can work on that he should be okay.

He's a fit boy with a good turn of pace which he doesn't use enough. He's progressing slowly at this moment in time, he's played some really good games and then another week he'll disappear in a match, so it's up to him to maintain consistency in his performance to push on to become a better player.

If he keeps listening, learning and working on certain aspects of his game then there's no reason why he can't develop into a decent player.

Jimmy Neighbour
Under-17s Manager