Exclusive: Interview with Tottenham’s latest debutant Josh Onomah
12:12 21 January 2015
The modern football fan is used to seeing new faces from all over the world, but Tottenham’s latest debutants have been increasingly local to White Hart Lane.
Harry Winks, who made his bow in November, is from Watford and attacking central midfielder Josh Onomah, who came off the bench in last Wednesday’s FA Cup replay against Burnley, hails from Enfield.
With Walthamstow’s Harry Kane leading the line for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, Ryan Mason also coming from Enfield and Andros Townsend having his roots in Leytonstone, Spurs really are producing homegrown players in a very literal sense these days.
Now Onomah, who attended Southbury Primary School and then Kingsmead Secondary School, has become the latest Spurs fan to sign for his boyhood club, come through the youth ranks and make his debut for the senior side at White Hart Lane.
“I’m ecstatic, it’s something I’ve been waiting for my whole life – a dream that’s finally come true,” said Onomah. “I’m lost for words, I don’t know what to say, I’m speechless. I’m happy that I got a few touches of the ball and hopefully it’s the first game of many.
“I came into the academy when I was nine. I got scouted playing for a team called Omonia and I was picked up after playing in a school tournament. Ever since then I’ve just been playing for Tottenham.
“I’ve always supported Spurs. I grew up in the area and I’m buzzing to make my debut. Some of my family was there so hopefully I made them proud.
“The gaffer likes to see young players and if you’re doing well in training he’ll give you a chance. It gives you the confidence and trust that you have a gaffer who can do that. I thank Poch [Pochettino] for this opportunity.”
At 17 years old, Onomah is even younger than Spurs’ previous debutant, 18-year-old Winks. He has also been moving through the ranks at international level, representing England’s Under-16s, Under-17s and Under-18s. Indeed, he was part of the Under-17 squad that won the European Championships at that age group in May 2013.
“I’m a player that likes to dribble with the ball, make forward passes and I assist a lot,” said Onomah. “But one area that I can improve on a lot is scoring more goals.
“The coaches in the academy have talked to me about that so hopefully I can add that to my game.”
Onomah’s coaches include Ledley King, who has a part-time role with Tottenham’s Under-18s alongside his ambassadorial duties, while Ugo Ehiogu joined the club’s academy in the summer.
“It’s a good experience having Ledley as a coach,” said Onomah. “When you’ve got a big icon like that around you just try to get all the experience you can from him.
“He’s played for Tottenham throughout his whole career and he’s someone who I look up to, so it’s great to have him around. He’s played for this club at first-team level so he knows how it feels and he gives us all an insight into what it’s like to be a professional footballer.”
King’s chronic knee problems limit his ability to play an active part on the training pitch. “He’s more of a talker, he uses his arms a lot,” said Onomah. “You can understand him, so it’s good.
“It’s good that Ugo was a professional footballer as well - that gives you the confidence and trust in the coach too. He understands what it’s like to be a player at this age and that’s useful.”
While Onomah will be hoping for further first-team opportunities, his current focus is on tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) fourth-round FA Youth Cup tie against Wolves at Dagenham & Redbridge.
“It’s the biggest competition there is for Under-18s and I’ve played in it two years in a row now - hopefully this season it could be our year,” he said. “Our philosophy through the academy is about winning, and obviously impressing coaches as well, so it would be good to do both.”
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