Japhet Tanganga has had a whirlwind few months in North London. Few people would have expected the 21-year-old to break into the Tottenham side this campaign despite him showing glimpses of his ability during pre-season.
However, Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Spurs has turned out to be a blessing for the young defender.
To people’s surprise, the Spurs boss threw him straight into the deep hand by handing Tanganga his Premier League debut against Liverpool in January.
The defender made a terrific impression in that game and hasn’t looked back since, making the starting eleven numerous times at right-back, left-back, and centre-back.
The youngster has now opened up on how he was cutting grass at the training ground during a work-experience stint with ground staff at Hotspur Way just three years ago.
Speaking to the Sun, Tanganga said: “It was a great week of experience. It gave me real insight into many things about life and football.
“Honestly, it was just great seeing how good the training ground was. It was right in front of me, but it was all down to the guys – the attention and work they put in during the rain, during the cold, when it was hot.
“For me, it was just a learning experience. It really showed me a lot of things that if I maybe wouldn’t have seen at that time.
“It was a great experience, I enjoyed it. It showed me another side of life, it showed me work ethic. It showed me how passionate they were with their jobs. And along the way I met some great people.
“They spoke with me in different ways about their life, about working at Tottenham and how much of a pleasure it is.
“Just many things that for me I took away and used in everyday life to help me as a person and also a footballer. It was great for me.
“I met some amazing people who I will forever remember so when I see them I always say hello, stop by, have a chat and ask them how they’re doing.
“A lot of them are proud of me to see how far I’ve come, to be in the first team. It’s amazing.”
The centre-half also revealed his pride at graduating from the club’s academy and hoped that his rise to the first-team ranks will serve to motivate others to follow in his footsteps.
Tanganga added: “For me, bringing through academy players is always important at any club. It shows all the work that the academy has done to produce a player.
“It’s very important for Tottenham and for every club to produce some academy players. Malachi Fagan-Walcott came on against Leipzig and got a glimpse of it and hopefully from there he wants more and can push on.
“Hopefully the likes of me, Oliver Skipp and those above us can urge the younger lot to follow in our footsteps and try and reach for what we’ve achieved.
“I think it’s important for Tottenham and any club to focus on the academy and young people.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Tanganga is not just a great athlete but also has terrific composure for someone his age, which certainly bodes well for his prospects of evolving into a top defender. He also comes across like an extremely humble kid who is willing to learn. I believe he will seal his place in the side next season.
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