How Jamie O'Hara is living his White Hart Lane dream: full interview
BY PAT MOONEY, HAM&HIGH SPORTS EDITOR LIFE just seems to get sweeter and sweeter for Tottenham s young star Jamie O Hara. The midfielder, who was on loan at Millwall five short months ago, has not only broken into Juande Ramos s first team but last week made his debut for England Under-21s ag
LIFE just seems to get sweeter and sweeter for Tottenham's young star Jamie O'Hara.
The midfielder, who was on loan at Millwall five short months ago, has not only broken into Juande Ramos's first team but last week made his debut for England Under-21s against Poland.
And O'Hara, who played left-back for Spurs against Newcastle on Sunday, loves playing for the Lilywhites so much he wants to sign a new deal keeping him at the Lane for another three years.
"I'm a Spurs fan and I love playing for Spurs," O'Hara told Wood&Vale Sports. "I'm negotiating a new deal at the moment and there are just a few things that need to be sorted. I've got a year left on my contract at the end of this season and I want to sign for another two or three years.
"Fans love to see a young English player coming through the ranks. Top clubs have got the money to go out and buy a player when they need one, so you have to look at yourself and think 'I want to be that player'.
"Other players will always come in so you have to keep proving to the manager that you can be part of his plans. I see myself as becoming a first-team player week in, week out.
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"I would not be looking to sign a long-term contract If I didn't think I would be playing."
Indeed, the Dartford-born 21-year-old is not lacking in confidence. He quickly knuckled down at Millwall, making 14 League One appearances for the Lions, before deciding to return to the Lane and the chance to impress the new manager.
"Millwall fans soon let you know if you are not doing well, so it was tough," he said. "But I enjoyed it and that experience made me grow up as a player.
"I would recommend it to any young player. I feel you have to go out and play first-team football. There is nothing better than playing in front of crowds where it means something to those fans."
Back at Spurs Lodge, O'Hara quickly made an impression on the new regime. He was handed his senior debut as a substitute at Portsmouth in December before starting the north London derby against Arsenal at The Emirates.
He scored his first goal in a Uefa Cup match in the home leg with Slavia Prague at the Lane. Indeed, it was in the dramatic Uefa Cup penalty shoot-out at PSV Eindhoven that O'Hara showed he was made of the right stuff. Despite being one of the youngest players in the team and relatively inexperienced in Europe, the midfielder did not shy away from taking one of the first five spot-kicks.
"I put my hand up and said I would take one but walking up to the spot was probably the 50 loneliest steps I've ever taken in my life," said O'Hara. "I'd already decided where I was going to put it and I was delighted to see it go in. I left the ground gutted we didn't progress. But I felt I could walk away in a positive fashion as a young player who had stepped up to take a big penalty. That was something to be proud of."
And something else that O'Hara is proud of - is Paul Scholes's shirt, swapped after playing against the Manchester United midfielder in the FA Cup.
Although brought in specifically to mark Cristiano Ronaldo, O'Hara did not want the Portuguese star's shirt despite winning plaudits for his display against a player now widely regarded as the best in the world.
"I got Paul Scholes's shirt that day because he is my idol," said O'Hara. "I've always wanted to be like Scholes, a central midfielder who scores goals and runs games. The amount of videos I have spent watching the way he dominates games - that's what I want to achieve."
Not a bad role model - are you watching senor Ramos?