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By Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
It has been a difficult end to the year for Tottenham but young Spurs striker Shaquile Coulthirst has certainly finished 2013 on a high after making his first-team debut earlier this month.
Having sat on the bench away at Liverpool and FC Basel last season, and been an unused substitute in Tromso in November, the 19-year-old’s big moment came in the home game against Anzhi on Thursday December 12.
Replacing the £26million forward Roberto Soldado in the 78th minute, Coulthirst – known as ‘Shaq’ – was given the added bonus of making his bow in front of the home fans at White Hart Lane.
It was a special achievement for a local, home-grown talent who started his football career on Hackney Marshes a decade ago, playing in the Camden & Islington Youth League, before gradually progressing through Tottenham’s academy.
“I grew up in Hackney, not too far from here,” he said. “I played for a team called Westward Boys for half a year, and we were quite good and I got scouted from there.
“I’ve been here [at Spurs] for about 10 years now, so I’m happy to have finally made my debut.
“I knew I was on the bench on the morning of the game. I didn’t know I was going to play because I’d been on the bench a few times – but I was happy to get my chance this time.
“My brother and my friends came to watch and I got a text from my mum straight afterwards. A lot of my friends sent me messages, so I’m just proud of myself.”
A highly-rated prospect, Coulthirst scored 19 goals in 29 appearances for Tottenham’s youth sides last season – including a notable hat-trick away against Barcelona’s young stars as Spurs triumphed 4-1 at the Mini Estadi in the NextGen Series.
Spurs’ Under-19s went on to reach the quarter-finals of the prestigious European youth tournament before being beaten by Sporting Lisbon – but this year’s competition was cancelled due to funding issues, denying Tottenham’s juniors useful experience.
“It’s good to play against the best teams in your age group around the world, but maybe if that happened then I might not have been here to make my debut, so who knows,” said Coulthirst.
“That hat-trick against Barcelona was a highlight in my career, but obviously that game [against Anzhi] is probably just the best one now.”
Having taken his first step towards becoming a first-team player at Tottenham, Coulthirst is aiming to emulate his hero Jermain Defoe at the Lane – but he is adamant that he has a long way to go and is not getting carried away.
“Since I’ve been here, Jermain Defoe’s always been what I want to be like,” said the teenager. “He’s always scoring goals, always celebrating, always smiling, so that’s the kind of player I want to be.
“For the last two years I’ve been around him, training with the first team, so I get a lot of tips off him and hopefully I can use them.
“If I had to describe myself I’d say I’m a strong, fast, aggressive kind of striker and I love to score goals – but I need to work on every part of my game.
“It’s definitely key not to get carried away too early, because obviously we’re young players and there are players who are way more experienced above you. You just want to learn from them as much as you can and then use what they’ve given you.
“People like Andros [Townsend] give you inspiration. A few months ago he wasn’t playing, he was out on loan, and look at him now – he’s playing all the time. That’s obviously what I want to be doing as well.”
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