While Troy Parrott is expected to be the next big star from the academy to make it into the Spurs team, another Irishman Terry Dixon blazed the trail for him over a decade ago.
Islington-born Dixon, who was a massive Spurs fan growing up, joined the club’s academy when he was just eight years old.
By the time he was fourteen, he was regarded very highly at the club and like Parrott, was seen as someone who was going to become a big player for the first team.
With Dixon having an Irish mother, the striker was called up for the senior Republic of Ireland side by manager Steve Staunton when he was just sixteen.
However, Dixon received a series of knee injuries that decimated his knee by the time he was just eighteen years of age.
The injury problems effectively ended his career in the top flight despite him having a brief stint at West Ham after his time at Tottenham.
He has since then had quite a nomadic football journey including stints at non-league clubs Ware, Hitchin Town, Dunstable Town, Berkhamsted and others – a massive fall from grace for someone who earned the nickname, ‘The Irish Wanye Rooney’ as a teenager.
The 30-year-old sat down for an interview with Football.London’s Alasdair Gold in which he opened up on how he was let go by Spurs just after having a third knee surgery when he was just eighteen.
Dixon said: “That (Spurs’ decision to let him go) was after the big surgery I had. They had done a type of surgery from which nobody has played at a higher level after.
“They basically said you’re not going to play football again. It wasn’t Spurs, it was the surgeon, but they all came to an agreement that I wouldn’t play at the highest level again, which they were correct about.
“When I was growing up I didn’t just want to be a footballer, I wanted to be the best. So to be told that I wouldn’t be able to do what I set out to do, after all the years of work, I was just in tears.
“Especially to be told I couldn’t do it for my club, to be released by my club. That killed me. It broke my heart. Tottenham is everything to me.”
The former Spurs forward said that he was impressed with how the club had transformed in his visit to the training ground recently and revealed that John McDermott wanted him to share his experiences with Parrott.
Dixon added: “I went to the new training ground to see [academy head] John McDermott and it’s a whole new world.
“It was the first time I’ve been back to the club since I left Tottenham when I was 18-years-old. I texted John and asked if he minded me coming down and taking a look at the place.
“I’m thinking about doing my coaching badges so it was a good chance to pick his brains. There are so many former players back there working with the academy, Ryan Mason, Stuart Lewis, Chris Riley, Troy [Archibald-Henville], there’s a few of them.”
“It’s something I want to do, whether it’s one day being in the Tottenham academy, you’ve got to start somewhere.
“I’ve been there and I know what it’s like and what to do and not to do. That’s what John was saying to me. He’d like me to come in and speak to Troy, just to speak to him about everything.
“It was lovely to speak to John and I want to keep in contact with him and other people at Spurs.”
The striker, who currently plays for non-league Aylesbury Vale Dynamos, urged his compatriot Parrott to keep working hard and assured him that opportunities will come his way.
Dixon said: “What I’ve seen of Troy he’s a goalscorer. He’s very good. I just hope he breaks through and does well for us,” said Dixon.
“I would say to him to just keep plugging away every single day in training. Don’t look to do the minimum asked of you. Make sure you do more than anyone else and keep plugging away at your craft.
“It’ll happen. He’s a quality player. You can see that. It will happen sooner or later. It’s just a question of time. If he keeps working hard it will come.
“I don’t think he’s too young either to go out on loan if that’s what the club wants. You can see he’s got an old head on his shoulders. He’s very mature.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Terry Dixon’s story is yet another example of how the pressure of making it at the top level can often overwhelm young players. We see examples time and again of players who are rated among the best in the world in their age group when they are teenagers disappear into obscurity by their early twenties. That is partly because it is very hard to tell how some players will develop physically and mentally.
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