Harry Kane is not the only one to have gone from Tottenham reserve to England international this season, with Ryan Mason taken aback by his own rapid ascent.
The nation has been swept up by Kane’s fairy-tale rise this term, allowing his friend and fellow academy graduate to quietly go about making his own mark with club and country.
Mason made his Spurs debut as a late substitute in a UEFA Cup tie against NEC Nijmegen in November 2008 yet, remarkably, it took nigh on six years – and loan spells at five different clubs – before finally making his first league appearance for them.
Since that surprise start at Arsenal in September, the 23-year-old has become a key figure under Mauricio Pochettino, leading to his England debut in the recent friendly in Italy.
“It’s been a breakthrough season,” Mason said. “I’m delighted how it’s been. The challenge now is to carry on and keep improving for next season.
“It is the first time I am going into a break feeling like a footballer. I have had 34, 35 games and that’s the first time that’s happened.
“After the next three games I’ll look forward to it, but probably within a couple of weeks I will be dying to get back into it and pre-season.”
Given the gruelling sessions Pochettino puts his players through, Mason may soon be wishing he was back on the beach.
Stoke, Hull and Everton are all that separate the Spurs players from their holidays – something Mason insists is far from their minds right now with European qualification on their minds.
“I don’t think it’s hard at all (to remain motivated),” the midfielder said. “We are a very young team and we want to be playing games.
“There is no sense of us thinking about our holidays at all.
“You can see with the effort the boys put in (against Manchester City) – we gave absolutely everything and that won’t be a problem at all.”
For Mason and his team-mates Sunday’s defeat to City followed an all too familiar trend, having seen a strong start peter out.
Sergio Aguero’s first-half strike saw Spurs eventually fall to a 1-0 defeat and Mason believes they need to replicate City’s clinical edge.
“City knew how to shut out the game and that is something we have to learn quickly for next season,” the midfielder said.
“We have got a young team and we need to learn how to play bad and win games.
“First and foremost we want to win games, play attractive football and score goals past the opposition. But I think there are times when maybe we’ve been maybe a bit naive at times.
“I can’t fault our effort (against City) and the way we played because I think we were fantastic. It is just a shame we didn’t convert some of our chances.”
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