Matt Taylor’s on a mission with Under-18s
Fri 09 August 2019, 19:48|Tottenham Hotspur
Matthew Taylor must feel like he’s completed the Spurs circle.
A childhood fan of the Club, Matt recalls watching the likes of Chris Waddle, Paul Gascoigne, Gary Lineker and Jurgen Klinsmann from the terraces at White Hart Lane in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
He admits it would have “been a dream” to pull on our famous Lilywhite shirt, but it wasn’t to be. A distinguished playing career brought him back to the Lane on numerous occasions with the likes of Portsmouth, Bolton and West Ham, but the Spurs dream eluded him.
Matt brought down the curtain on a career spanning 20 years and almost 750 appearances – many in the top flight – at Swindon at the end of last season.
Now 37, he’s writing a new chapter here at the Club. Matt was named our Under-18s coach in July. Thirty years on from those star-gazing days at the Lane, he’s finally wearing the cockerel. Perhaps footballing dreams do come true...
“I was a Spurs fan as a child and still am to this day,” said Matt after an Under-18s training session at Hotspur Way. “My dad is from Edmonton and it was the first professional game he took me to. I got the bug. I’ve still got all the kits up in the loft! So yes, it’s wonderful for me now to be working at the Club.
“I did come close to signing once. That would have been a dream for me but to now have an opportunity to work for the Club and help the next generation of footballers trying to make it in the first team is wonderful. It’s an amazing place to work. I’m a bit like a kid in a sweet shop!”
Matt will now go about infusing all those years of experience into players who want to follow in his footballing footsteps. He inherits a talented crop of young players, which includes this year’s intake of first-year scholars; goalkeepers Thimothee Lo-Tutala and Isak Solberg, defenders Jeremy Kyezu, Dermi Lusala and Marqes Muir, midfielders Eddie Carrington, Kallum Cesay, twins Michael and Matthew Craig, Nile John, Romaine Mundle and Max Robson, plus striker Tarrelle Whittaker.
“It’s about seizing every opportunity you are given,” he said. “Every day you come into the Training Centre it’s about trying your best, not just flicking a switch on a Saturday in a match and expecting everything to fall into place. That doesn’t happen.
“I know from personal experience having been through the process that leaving school at 16 and going into a full-time job, which is what these lads have done, is a really difficult thing to do. So we need to take that into consideration.
“Also, at 16, all I wanted to do was play football. So for these young men to be able to do that every day in what I can only describe as unbelievable surroundings – facilities, pitches, everything you could think of – it has to be a case of ‘no regrets’.
“In my career, what did I do every day? I listened, I tried my best and had a relatively successful career. Of course, there is far more to it than that. For me, it’s making sure that not only are we producing good footballers, but we’re producing good people. That’s paramount to Tottenham, paramount to the way things are done at this Club. Obviously, we want top-class footballers, but we also want top-class people.
“I want to be able to trust those young men in the dressing room and to know that we’ve had a good week training and they can go and implement it and ultimately, go and win football matches.
“I totally understand this is development football, but I think there is a winning culture at this football club and I want to continue to help these young men achieve that. Whatever they can achieve beyond that, fantastic.”