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Andros Townsend Discusses Expectation and Pressure as an Academy Player at Spurs

9 November 2018

Having rifled home an emphatic equaliser against Chelsea in last week's loss, Andros Townsend has become the man of the moment before Crystal Palace face the club he grew up at on Saturday, Tottenham Hotspur.

But, despite having fond memories of his years with the Lillywhites, Townsend will not be pulling any punches in the battle for three points.

"It’s always weird [playing a former club], especially Spurs. I’d been at Spurs since I was seven. It was sort of my club growing up so it’s definitely weird seeing friends, faces, players, staff, backroom staff, physios; it’s weird.

"But once you get on the pitch, it’s just business and you do your best to get three points for the club you’re playing for."

Growing up in the Spurs academy, Townsend spent almost the first 20 years of his career in north London, succeeding in nine loan spells during that time before moving permanently to Newcastle United in 2016.

"I had a few trials before I signed for Spurs so I knew full well how the system worked. I was a Spurs fan even before that so to get signed for Spurs was, at the time, a dream come true. Obviously, not in your wildest dreams would you ever expect to progress through all the way to the first-team but I ended up playing 90-odd games for them.

"It was incredible coming through the academy at the club you support and it’s rare that that happens nowadays. They’re memories I’ll treasure forever."

On January 9th 2011, Townsend made his first-team debut for Spurs, scoring the game's first goal and finishing as Man of the Match at just 19-years-old.

Still a teenager, the Leytonstone-born midfielder had made it as a professional footballer but explained that, even with talent, no player is ever fully sure they'll succeed.

"I think every kid always believes they’re going to be a footballer, but as you get older the realities start to kick in more. As you progress through the age groups, every year your friends get released; three or four players get released every year. And, by the end of it, it’s just you and two or three other players who you’ve grown up with. It’s a cut-throat world.

"Obviously I always had faith in my ability but to get into the first-team the way I did and to have a sustained period in the first-team was beyond my wildest dreams. We had a very talented group growing up and it’s good to see a lot of those boys doing well now.

"When you’re younger, you play football purely for the fun. It’s more carefree and you play to enjoy. The pressure only kicks in probably when you leave school and it becomes a lot more real. You’re earning a wage, you’re playing football for a living so that’s when it gets more serious. Before then, you’re just playing to enjoy it and you have the pipe dream of playing in the first-team one day."

Turning his attention to Saturday's 17.30 kick-off, Townsend shared the same quiet confidence he seemed to possess as an academy prospect.

"Ahead of Spurs, everyone's good. Obviously everyone’s disappointed by the result against Chelsea, but there were definitely many positives to take. 

"We’re a confident bunch anyway, and the last home game we played very well, we picked up a point against a team who’d won 11 on the spin. So, especially at home, we have to go into the game with confidence, looking to play the same way with the crowd behind us.

"We’re confident, we’re looking forward to it and hopefully we can get a result."

Looking back to one particularly famous victory against a different north London powerhouse, Townsend solicited the Selhurst crowd to do what it does best.

"[The Spurs game will have] a special atmosphere against one of the big boys, under the lights in a night game at Selhurst Park. My best memory of that was against Arsenal, under Big Sam [Allardyce]. 3-0. That was the best atmosphere I’ve ever experienced as a player and that memory always sticks in my head. Hopefully, if we’re performing well, the crowd can create the same atmosphere on Saturday."

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