When Aaron Lennon was first signed by Spurs, he was nothing more than an understudy to Wayne Routledge. Routledge then suffered continuous injuries that gave Lennon the chance to play in the first team. To say he grabbed his opportunity with both hands would be an understatement.
Lennon’s early days with us were nothing short of entertaining. Pace, directness and most importantly getting results. Lennon’s speed bamboozled opponents. His feet moved quicker
than most defenders could think. This boy gave migraines to a lot of full backs as well as nightmares. As a relatively unknown quantity then, it would take some years before opposition teams formulated the blueprint to shackle the winger. His potential became so apparent that he was one of the first names on the match day sheet. So strong were his performances that even when Routledge recovered from injury, he was used sparingly. The diminutive winger’s agility warmed to fans and pundits alike who became fascinated with the boy wonder.
Just to put into perspective the talents of Azza, consider this. He was Leed’s Young Player of the Year before signing for us in the 2004-2005 campaign. The following year, he won the
same accolade this time with Spurs (2005-2006). His trail blazing displays also earned him nominations for the PFA Young Player of the Year for a consecutive three years. A year after
breaking into the England U21 setup, he found himself in the senior squad just TWELVE months later in May 2006 and was a member of the team to go to the World Cup at just 19. During that World Cup, there were strong calls for our Azza to dislodge Beckham on the right wing as it was believed he would offer a lot more variety to England’s play. I could go on.
Injuries began to limit his impact through his early to mid twenties. After a while like with any footballer on the rise, people get used to your style of play. Movements that would have
caught opponents by surprise begin to get anticipated. Attributes that made a player once unplayable start to look predictable. It’s at this point, hot prospects are defined or exposed as so called ‘wonderkids’ who might have just peaked a little earlier than their peers. But real hot prospects build on their rising reputation, refine their game and add more to their skill set. It’s when you are able to mix up your game with evasiveness that makes you unpredictable. Ask any defender or goalkeeper. Predictable players are the easiest to play against. You know what they will attempt before they even get the ball. But a defenders worst nightmare is a player that is hard to figure out their next move. Top players at the top of their game keep their opponents guessing.
Sadly, for Spurs, Lennon burst onto the scene like a Playstation. At the time, relatively unknown, exciting and daring. Yet he hasn’t evolved into a Playstation 4. He has not recountered
many of the players that have countered and learnt how to shackle a speed merchant like himself. Unfortunately, he has not matured into the player we had hoped for.
Dare I say Walcott, Chamberlain even Townsend to some extent have usurped him now as an effective winger. England are in a World Cup and Lennon is nowhere to be seen. Sterling is the one doing the business and he has his ticket in Brazil with the senior team. Lennon has dissapointed and the closest he will get to the team is watching them on TV.
I’m not branding the boy a dissapointment based on last season alone. That would be unfair as many of our stars failed to turn up. At 27 he should be in his peak now. As good a player
as he still is, it has to be said; if we had an option of choosing either Chamberlain, Sterling or Lennon to wear the famous No.7 shirt who would you choose? Lennon is actually one of my favourite players. We were born in the same year. In the same month. Plus only five days keep our birthdays apart.
However, no player is bigger than the team. I cannot fail to agree with my eyes the truth I know in my heart. Sometimes we have to be real and not be biased. As for the question of
which winger I would choose to wear the iconic No.7 shirt, I know who I’d choose to wear it. Ultimately, I think you do too.
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