Football is filled with tales of wonderkids who never quite made the step up from academy legends to first-team stars, and Dorian Dervite at Spurs is certainly a good example.
The tall central defender arrived in North London as a highly-rated 18-year-old with clubs queuing around the block to sign him.
In 2006, Dervite finally got permission from his mother to make the trip from Lille to England, thanks to a meeting with Spurs’ ex-sporting director, Damien Comolli.
He would then spend four years training with the first team and playing under the likes of Martin Jol, Juande Ramos, and Harry Redknapp.
Dervite was handed his competitive debut in the League Cup under Martin Jol and even claimed a key goal on the night against Port Vale.
However, in a friendly match just a month or two later, Dervite found himself on the wrong end of a nasty tackle that looked set to keep him out for 18-24 months.
While Spurs looked after the defender and got him the best treatment, an argument with Daniel Levy during the Harry Redknapp era eventually brought an end to his North London journey.
Dervite recalled the incident in an interview with Football London: “I really loved to work with Harry Redknapp. There’s no bulls**t with him. If you work hard and you’re good enough then it doesn’t matter whether you’re called Ledley King or Dorian Dervite, he will give you a chance.
“I had one dilemma because it was my last year when he arrived. The chairman Daniel Levy offered me a contract extension but I wanted more guarantees.
“Redknapp wanted me to sign, but I had an argument with the chairman and it meant I didn’t sign the contract. He told me that if I didn’t sign the new deal I would not play at all until my contract finished.
“Redknapp had told me that he would give me the chance to play, but the chairman would not let me unless I signed.
“The argument over the contract was because it would have been the same contract as when I was 18.
“Since I was that old I was playing with the France U21s, I was training with the first team all the time. I was doing well and Redknapp was really happy with me so I felt I deserved more.
“The chairman told me it was this deal or I had to leave. He told me ‘if I was your dad I would tell you to sign this contract’.
“After that I said I would not sign. At the time, Reading who were in the Championship, wanted to sign me on loan. I asked him to let me go on loan but he said that if I didn’t sign the contract I wasn’t going anywhere.
“That’s how it all ended at Spurs and it’s a bit sad it went that way. When I look back I think maybe I should have signed the extension, but I didn’t like the way I was treated.
“It’s frustrating because when I look back there’s a feeling that had I signed it might have been better for me in the future but at the time I was very stubborn. I didn’t like the way I was spoken to and I didn’t want to make Daniel Levy happy.
“You can’t turn back time though and I had a really good time under Harry Redknapp. I learned a lot. I trained with Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Jermain Defoe. To defend against him every day made you a better player. It was a great experience.”
Have something to tell us about this article?