Shashoua eyeing promotion after long season with Baleares
Sat 22 June 2019, 09:48|Tottenham Hotspur
We’ve all had a long season – and one Spurs player is still going strong with a huge promotion play-off coming up this weekend.
Attacking midfielder Samuel Shashoua joined Majorca-based side Atlético Baleares on loan last August for the Spanish Segunda División B season.
Some 10 months later, after an excellent year which saw Baleares top their regional table by mid-May, they’re facing the biggest game in their history as they prepare for a two-legged play-off final against Mirandes, with a place in the second tier of Spanish football – the equivalent of the Championship – up for grabs.
Samuel has been at the centre of their promotion push with 36 appearances and six goals to his name so far and was recently named as the best player under 23 in Baleares’ league for 2018/19.
With the first leg of the play-off final coming up in Burgos on Sunday (5.45pm), he’s determined to finish his campaign on the ultimate high by helping his side reach La Liga 2 for the first time in their history – something that would come as a massive boost with the ambitious outfit set to move into their new stadium in the near future.
“It’s a huge deal for the club,” the 20-year-old told us from Majorca ahead of the game. “The owners have invested a lot of money and the dream was always to get into the second division with the new stadium on the way. The club has never been in the second tier so to take that next step would mean a lot to everyone. We’ve been in the play-offs before but it would mean so much to go up and I want to help to do that, to represent Tottenham well and to help this club achieve its dream.”
Baleares have already missed out on promotion once this term. With the third-tier Segunda Division B split into four regional leagues of 20 teams each, Baleares won their league (Group 3) and earned the right to face one of the other group winners in a two-legged play-off where the victors would go up automatically. Racing Santander got the better of them on away goals after a 1-1 aggregate draw, which meant Baleares had to enter the more complex play-off system involving the top four clubs from each group to have another crack at winning promotion. Now, after a 1-0 aggregate win over Melilla in their semi-final, they’ve got one last shot at reaching their target, with the away leg of the final against Mirandes coming up on Sunday and the home leg to follow next week.
“We’re looking forward to it but what we’ve learned in the play-off system over the last few weeks is that away goals are crucial,” explained Samuel, who had been a regular in our Development Squad before heading to Majorca. “If we can get an away goal at their place, we feel like we can beat any team at home so that will hopefully give us a bit more security if we can score on Sunday. We’ve got a good group of lads here and we feel confident that we can get the result.
“It would mean a lot because it’s been a really tough year. There have been a lot of ups and downs and, for me, a lot of games in my first full season in men’s football. I’ve never played so many games that are so physically and mentally intense, but to have a promotion on my CV with Baleares at the end of it all would mean a lot. In these play-off games you need to be at 150 per cent because it means so much to everyone, including your opponents. It’s about trying to match that ambition and making sure you win. This club really deserves to get there (the second tier) and I’d love to play my part in that.”
Samuel is one of 10 Spurs players who spent time out on loan in 2018/19. Winger Anthony Georgiou spent the second half of the campaign on loan at Levante II and actually played against Samuel in Segunda Division B during one of his 11 appearances. He scored once against Hercules.
Centre-back Cameron Carter-Vickers made 33 appearances for Championship side Swansea City while midfielder Josh Onomah played 15 times for league rivals Sheffield Wednesday over the course of the campaign. Attacking midfielder Marcus Edwards scored two goals in 28 senior appearances for Dutch side Excelsior but couldn’t spare them from Eredivisie relegation while, in Australia, striker Shayon Harrison scored twice for Melbourne City on the last day of the regular A-League season in a 5-0 home victory over Central Coast Mariners, taking his overall tally to four goals in 11 appearances for the club since joining them on 1 February.
Of the other players who headed out on loan mid-season, striker Kazaiah Sterling scored once in eight appearances for League One Sunderland while an injury restricted winger Georges-Kevin Nkoudou to just three appearances for AS Monaco in French Ligue 1.
Connor Ogilvie leaves us this summer for League One side Gillingham, for whom he made 37 appearances throughout 2018/19 – his second consecutive season on loan with them – while goalkeeper Tom Glover has spent the final few months of his Spurs tenure on loan at Swedish outfit Helsingborg, serving as an unused substitute in each of their Allsvenskan fixtures since his arrival.