The 7 Tottenham ‘Wonderkids’ that never were

As a child, I can still distinctly remember being told by my dad about a young Northern Ireland midfielder named Paul McVeigh. Apparently, the young prodigy was mustard, and reminiscent of his countryman the late great George Best (sans the whisky). He could beat people for fun, me’old Dad told said, and was going to be a star! Unfortunately, this didn’t quite turn out to be the case…

Ever since, like many Tottenham fans, I am cynical whenever I hear about a youngster Tottenham are about to sign, or is emerging from the youth team, as it’s fair to say, over the years, there have been one too many Paul McVeighs…

So here they are in all their glory, the Tottenham wonder kids that never were, or as I like to call them, latter day John Bostocks…

Steffen Iversen

Iversen served the club well between 1996 and 2003, winning the League Cup with Tottenham in 1999, and was by no means a poor player. However, when Iversen signed for Spurs, it was viewed as a real coup. Iversen had scored 18 goals in 50 appearances for Rosenborg BK, and his contribution to their success led Spurs to spend £2.7m on the striker, with clubs all over Europe looking at the player. Despite a promising first season, where he scored six goals including a hat-trick against Sunderland at Roker Park, Iversen never became the goal scorer fans hoped. Injuries halted his progress, and Iversen failed to live up to the hype.

Jonathan Blondel

Blondel signed for Tottenham in August 2002, with Glenn Hoddle and David Pleat confirming they had convinced the young Belgian to sign for Spurs over Manchester United. Blondel’s signature was thus celebrated in North London as a major coup at the time. In hindsight, Blondel had only played 18 times for his club Royal Excelsior Mouscron, and despite his reputation and fee (Spurs had spent £800k on the youngster), he had only been playing in the Belgium league. Blondel was hyped as a skilful attacking midfielder that would soon be challenging the likes of Freund, Poyet and Anderton for places. In actual fact, Blondel would make just two substitute appearances, before being shipped off to Club Bruges. Spending £800k on a player, playing him twice, then allowing him to leave on a free two seasons later, may not make sense to most, but is classic Tottenham.

Helder Postiga

After José Mourinho took over the reigns as Porto manager, Postiga soon exploded onto the scene in Portugal. He scored 13 goals in their 2002–03 campaign, and before his twenty-first birthday had become a star in Portugal, earning a permanent slot in the Portuguese under-21 side. This prompted Glenn Hoddle to part with £6.25m to bring Helder to White Hart Lane, with much expected from the Portuguese. Hoddle told the official Spurs website:

“He is a player who will add definite striking quality to our squad and is a young player of proven ability… I’m sure our supporters will enjoy watching him over the coming seasons.”

Actually, Postiga would make only 12 full appearances and score just 2 goals with Spurs.

Well done Glenn.

Continued on Page TWO

Simon Davies and Matthew Etherington

Davies and Etherington are perhaps unfairly placed on this list, as it was not their fault that Championship Manager 1999/2000 had rendered the pair famous. On ‘Champ’, the Peterborough duo were awesome, (although Davies was always the better player for me), but hopefully, that’s not why George Graham departed with £700k to bring them to the club in December 1999.

The dreaded words ‘Manchester United’ and ‘trial’ can also be attributed here, as the pair were both given the once over (not like that, grow up) by Alex Ferguson. However, the boys ended up at White Hart Lane, and it was only a matter of time before they brought the title with them…

Unfortunately, Etherington turned out to have an inability to cross the ball, whilst Simon Davies could be blown away with a gust of wind. In the end the only thing that developed whilst the pair were at the Lane, was Etherington’s penchant for a flutter.

In fairness, both presently have careers with Premier League clubs, and Etherington is now cured of his afflictions after attending Tony Adams’ Sporting Chance Clinic. However, they remain yet two more examples of Tottenham wonder kids that never were…

Wayne Routledge

At the time most Spurs fans were probably thinking “Wow, if Simon Jordan is this hacked off about losing Routledge, he must simply be a super football player!” Now plying his trade with Premier League chasing Newcastle United, it is clear that Routledge didn’t quite live up to the hype.

The lad joined the Spurs from Crystal Palace for an ‘undisclosed fee’ in August 2005. However, the fee was supposedly just over £1m, and seeing as though Routledge helped Spurs win the Peace Cup pre-season, where the prize money was around £1m, technically he paid for himself.

Routledge was just 20 when he came to Spurs, and after creating 8 assists for Palace the season before, it was believed he would be just what Tottenham needed on the wing. After impressing in pre-season however, Routledge suffered a bad injury on the opening day of the season. A certain 17 year old Aaron Lennon came in to replace him, and Routledge never won his place back…

After a succession of loans at the likes of Portsmouth and Fulham, Routledge eventually left Spurs for Aston Villa in January 2008. After all the effort Tottenham had gone to, the wonder kid inside never materialized… perhaps Simon Jordan was right after all.

Bobby Zamora

Zamora joined Glenn Hoddle’s Tottenham revolution in 2003 for a fee of £1.5m. Zamora had an excellent record in the lower leagues, his 70 goals in 119 league games helping Brighton and Hove Albion win back to back promotions to the Championship, or First Division as it was then.

Predictably, the Tottenham faithful didn’t take to the clumsy looking Zamora, and the fact that he had been highly rated before joining only added to the disappointment when he left the club, deemed failure.

This season has seen Zamora score goals in the Premier League, with an England call-up supposedly a possibility also, so Zamora is clearly not a bad player. However, at Tottenham, like so many before him, he failed to produce the goods.

Zamora left the club just 6 months after joining in January 2004, with Jermain Defoe coming the other way in an player-exchange plus cash deal with West Ham. Zamora managed just 16 league appearances, and managed just one goal… sighs.

Well, there you have it, a team of wonder kids who never quite did it for the super Spurs. With the likes of  John Bostock doing their best to go the same way, there might well be more inclusions to add in a few years time. However, for now let’s push the doom and gloom out of our minds and believe that somewhere out there, the next Helder Postiga is ready and waiting to heed the Tottenham call…

You can find me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mark0turner

 


Switch to Snack Football to browse all blogs, videos and new featured content
snack football unit grey closesnack football unit green-tick