Harvey White on a season of learning with Spurs and Portsmouth: “I’ve loved it!”
Sat 05 June 2021, 11:16|Tottenham Hotspur
Harvey White branded his 2020/21 campaign as “a massive learning curve – in a really positive way.”
A shining light in our Academy set-up in recent seasons, the 19-year-old put in some impressive performances for our Under-23s in the latter months of 2020, scoring three goals and providing seven assists – more than any other player in the squad – before stepping up to make his competitive first team debut against Ludogorets in the UEFA Europa League in November.
His first senior start and a full 90-minute shift against Marine in the FA Cup followed at the start of January before he spent the second half of the campaign on loan at Portsmouth, scoring the winning goal on his first league start against Oxford United in February and going on to make 22 appearances as Pompey finished eighth in League One, two agonising points shy of a play-off berth.
“The games at Spurs definitely helped me in making a dream come true and then going on loan to Portsmouth, which is another massive club, getting the opportunity to play there and learning with some top players and top managers, I’ve just loved it. It’s been a massive learning curve – in a really positive way,” smiled the central midfielder as he assessed his progress over the last 12 months.
“As soon as I got to Portsmouth in January, on the first day, everyone made me feel welcome. I enjoyed training, we got to the first game against AFC Wimbledon, I played in it, we won 4-0 which always helps and then I pushed on from there, training every week, I was in the gym quite a bit and just playing a lot of football. Compared to Development Squad games, it was a lot more competitive because you’re playing for people’s livelihoods – that was always in the back of my head – and you’re also playing for players’ careers because those players – and me as well – want to play at the top so if it means promotion, if it means play-offs, for some players, that might be the highest level they’ve played at so far.
“Going there and making 22 appearances, I started six of them, played three full lots of 90 minutes and scored one goal, so it was great for me, but I was just gutted that we didn’t get into the play-offs because that would have topped off a really good loan and got us closer to promotion. I was gutted in that respect because as a team, we deserved it. We went through a lot of injuries and suspensions, I feel like we did deserve to be in the play-offs but it wasn’t meant to be. I’m sure Portsmouth will get back to where they should be though – and that’s at the top.”
As well as getting some vital exposure to the demands of regular men’s football and suffering penalty shootout heartbreak in the delayed 2019/20 EFL Trophy Final, Harvey also experienced a change of manager and having to prove himself all over again, with Kenny Jackett departing in March and being replaced by Danny Cowley.
“It’s part of football,” reflected Harvey. “I feel like I’m quite good at getting on well with everyone but I had to show the new manager when he came in that I was ready to play, because he didn’t put me in the squad for his first game against Ipswich. I was disappointed, but then I got my head down and showed on the training pitch that I could be part of the squad. That’s what I’ve realised most, that it’s a team sport – you’ve got to be individually focused on getting in the squad first of all and then once you’re in the squad, keep your spot. Sometimes it’s going to be a tough game but you’ve got to find ways to shine, play well and keep your place.
“I actually scored against Portsmouth for us in the EFL Trophy a few years ago – a few lads were reminding me of that – but I tried to do it for Portsmouth and luckily I did it once with a really good header against Oxford, which I don’t know how I scored! I just ran into the box and got the timing right, but that goal was really because I was working hard. In the first eight games I wasn’t really playing much, coming on here and there, but I just kept my head down, kept working hard, worked with the coaches and then when I got my first ever league start, I scored to win the three points.
“Now that the season is over, obviously I’ve thanked them all in person but I just want to say thank you very much to everyone at Portsmouth on the record for all that they’ve done for me. I’m sure I’ll see them all again in the future at some point and I wish them all the best.”