Former Spurs academy graduate encourages more English players to consider MLS move

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Former Tottenham Hotspur academy graduate, Anton Walkes, is a bit of a trailblazer for young English footballers after becoming one of the few to make a move to Major League Soccer early in his career.

The former Spurs man came through the ranks in North London alongside the likes of Kyle Walker-Peters and Harry Winks.

However, the defender’s only senior appearance for Spurs came in 2016 in an EFL Cup match against Gillingham.

Instead of dropping down the leagues to get regular game time, Walkes decided to try his luck in the United States and it is a decision that he is extremely happy with so far.

After spending a season on loan at Atalanta United in 2017, the defender completed a permanent move to the MLS side from Portsmouth back in January.

He admitted that the move has benefited him both on and off the pitch and encouraged more young players to try their luck across the pond.

Walkes told The Mirror: “It was something totally different, I had to leave my family, my comfort zone and it was such a big change.

“I realised I couldn’t sit and play reserve or under-23s football anymore. I was sitting in the dressing room one day, Mauricio Pochettino came over and asked me how I felt about the move.

“Pochettino said he knew the coaching staff and said I’d get more minutes and, after speaking to my family, it was definitely something I had to do.

“I’d always recommend coming here rather than dropping down the leagues in England.

“Some guys have been at academies since they were eight years old and to leave at 21 or 22, it’s a big wrench, but it’s definitely worth leaving your comfort zone.

“I’m a family man, my family mean the world to me. Stepping away was always hard. But you have to realise there are opportunities elsewhere, be brave and take it full steam ahead.

“I met my girlfriend while I was there, we’ve got a little one and that was a plus side and I’ve got my own little family now to keep me focused and that’s always important.

The versatile defender also insisted that the MLS was growing considerably and is no longer considered something of a footballing retirement home like it once was.

He added: “I think you’ll only see MLS get better and better. A lot of people’s opinions have changed of late. The rate the league is going at, you’ll only see it get better.

“Younger players are coming here. It’s not a place if you’re older and just somewhere to see our the last two or three years of your career. It’s way beyond that stage.

“I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to try something different.”

Spurs Web Opinion

There is no doubt that the MLS has grown considerably in popularity over the last decade or so and it isn’t perceived the same way that it once was. David Beckham’s Inter Miami will further help increase the league’s profile in England and I am sure we will start to see more young players try their luck in America in the future.

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