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

27 January 2019

Having rifled home an emphatic equaliser against Chelsea in November before thundering in strikes against Burnley and Manchester City and also netting against Liverpool last Saturday, Andros Townsend has become and remained the man of the moment before Crystal Palace face the club he grew up at, Tottenham Hotspur, on Sunday.

Speaking recently, Townsend made it clear that, despite having fond memories of his years with the Lilywhites, he does not pull any punches when facing his former side.

"It’s always weird [playing a former club], especially Spurs," he explained. "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 just under 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.

Looking back on such an extensive period, he said, "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 opening 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 their success will last.

"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. 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 Sunday's 16.00 kick-off, Townsend shared the same quiet confidence he seemed to possess as an academy prospect.

“In our history against the big clubs we’ve always done well. The last three or four games against Spurs it’s ended 1-0 to them, so it shows it can go either way. They’ve got their injury problems, they’ve got their fixture pile-ups, so it’s a great chance for us to get something from the game and go further in the competition.

"They’ve got terrific players out, but they have great players still in the team so it’s going to be a difficult game whoever they put out.”

However, Crystal Palace have on unique advantage when playing at home that may boost players such as Townsend and, looking to the fixture on Sunday, he remarked, “The fans have really taken to me in last few years and I’m reaping the benefits of that, I’m feeling confident every time I step onto the field and hopefully I can keep repaying their faith.

"They’ve got a chant for me and every time I hear that it gives me a boost. I’m extremely grateful to them every time I hear it. The confidence and energy you get when you have 25-26,000 people cheering you on, you can’t not want to do well.”

Tickets are available to buy for Sunday's clash with Spurs. If you haven't yet bought your place amongst what promises to be another huge atmosphere at Selhurst Park, click here now. Alternatively, you can buy yours on the gate from 09.00 at the Palace Box Office.

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