Spurs coach discusses future of Tottenham’s goalkeepers
EXCLUSIVE: Goalkeeping coach Tony Parks believes that Spurs’ future is in safe hands as he eyes the next generation of Tottenham custodians – and he is tipping David Button to challenge for the No1 jersey in the next few years.
With 41-year-old Brad Friedel and 38-year-old Carlo Cudicini approaching the end of their careers, the Lilywhites are on the look-out for long-term replacements.
A move for France’s Hugo Lloris has been mooted, but Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is hoping that the club will also be able to develop their own players at their new state-of-the-art academy.
Having survived the change of management over the summer, Parks has been charged with the responsibility of nurturing the club’s emerging keepers – and he feels the future is bright.
“We have a couple of younger lads who did particularly well last season,” Parks told London24.com. “We certainly have a few lower down and we’ve got a few coming through from the ages of nine to 16 – we’re quite well equipped there.
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“We’ve got at least one who might be a future goalkeeper for us and I think we’re looking quite good.”
Ben Alnwick, 25, Oscar Jansson, 21, and Mirko Ranieri, 20, were recently released but Scotland Under-21 keeper Jordan Archer has penned a new deal while 19-year-old Jonathan Miles has signed his first professional contract – and Parks has high hopes for Button.
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The 23-year-old has been loaned to 12 different clubs since joining Tottenham’s academy in 2005-06, culminating in spells with Doncaster Rovers and Barnsley in the Championship earlier this year.
“We’ve had David Button out on loan for the last couple of years,” said Parks. “He’s made steady progress from League Two, into League One and then into the Championship, so he would be one that we hold in high regard.
“I think David’s technically a very good footballing goalkeeper. In the modern game you need to be decent with the ball at your feet, which he is. He works really hard in the gym to make himself as strong as he possibly can, and he comes and deals with crosses.”
Parks, who worked with Joe Hart during his time as an FA youth coach, says Spurs are taking their time to develop Button’s talents.
“Physically, David’s probably developed a bit later than Joe Hart, but that’s starting to come now,” Parks continued.
“Some kids develop earlier and develop their strength earlier. David’s very tall – he’s 6ft 4ins. He was a big, tall, skinny lad with not a lot of muscle power as a young kid, and sometimes you have to wait for that to come.
“He goes into the gym and works on his strength and his power, and all of those attributes are now starting to pay dividends for him.
“Whereas Joe was a man when he was about 20 years old, David’s probably had to wait until he was 22. People think ‘oh he’s 23’, but physically he was about 20 or 21.
“Sometimes you just have to take that into consideration and make sure that the development programme is right for the player – where you place him, what level he plays at, what type of training he does – and over the last couple of years he’s done really well to finish last season as a Championship goalkeeper.
“Hopefully we can get him out and playing in the Championship again next season and look forward to him hopefully moving on to become a Premier League goalie for Tottenham.”
However, Parks believes that young English goalkeepers face an uphill struggle to make an impact in the top flight.
“Joe had a lot of games as a young goalkeeper, which is really important,” he said. “That’s where he gained his experience. It’s something that English goalkeepers lack specifically - it’s very difficult for young English goalkeepers to break in.
“The Premier League is so awash with finances, and it can attract the best from around the world – and the other factor is that most managers prefer goalkeepers who are a bit more mature.
“But if you have a look around Europe at the moment, there are a lot of young goalies playing – there are probably half a dozen who are playing in the first team at the age of 18 or 19.
“Look at the boy who won the Europa League with Atletico Madrid [Thibaut Courtois]. He’s another 20-year-old who’s been playing first-team football since he was about 17-and-a-half or 18 at Genk. Then he moved on to Chelsea, who loaned him straight back out.
“It’s so important to be playing games, which is where you probably learn more than anything. Once you’ve worked on technical stuff with goalkeepers in training then the question is ‘can you transfer that into the games?’
“Unless you’re getting games it’s very difficult to prove to someone that you can go in and play in their team. It sometimes just needs someone to be brave and give them a chance.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs