JAPHET TANGANGA is now cutting it in the Premier League with Tottenham.
But just three years ago he was cutting the grass at the North London club’s training ground.
The versatile rookie, 21, has blossomed into one of Tottenham and the top-flight’s most promising defenders after a work-experience stint with groundstaff at their Hotspur Way complex when he was 18.
He said: “It was a great week of experience. It gave me a real insight into many things about life and football.
“Honestly, it was just great seeing how good the training ground was. It was right in front of me, but it was all down to the guys – the attention and work they put in during the rain, during the cold, when it was hot.
“For me, it was just a learning experience. It really showed me a lot of things that if I maybe wouldn't have seen at that time.
“It was a great experience, I enjoyed it. It showed me another side of life, it showed me work ethic. It showed me how passionate they were with their jobs. And along the way I met some great people.
“They spoke with me in different ways about their life, about working at Tottenham and how much of a pleasure it is.
"Just many things that for me I took away and used in everyday life to help me as a person and also a footballer. It was great for me.
“I met some amazing people who I will forever remember so when I see them I always say hello, stop by, have a chat and ask them how they're doing.
“A lot of them are proud of me to see how far I've come, to be in the first team. It's amazing.”
Tanganga has hardly let the grass grow under his feet since manager Hose er, sorry Jose Mourinho handed him his Prem debut in January’s 1-0 home defeat by Liverpool.
He had just started to establish himself in the Spurs squad when football was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tanganga has moved back in with his family during the lockdown.
Asked if he is doing the gardening, he said: “Not at the moment but outside my mum has just cut down all the weeds. She's been begging me to help her out because she says I have experience.
“At my girlfriend's house, they've recently laid some grass and some plants. Before the lockdown, sometimes I'd go round there and help them planting flowers and stuff.
“But at the moment my mum's just done the weeds so there's nothing for me to do.”
Tanganga is the latest Spurs academy seedling to flower in the first team, following in the footsteps of Harry Kane and Harry Winks.
The defender added: “For me, bringing through academy players is always important at any club. It shows all the work that the academy has done to produce a player.
“It's very important for Tottenham and for every club to produce some academy players. Malachi Fagan-Walcott came on against Leipzig and got a glimpse of it and hopefully from there he wants more and can push on.
Hopefully the likes of me, Oliver Skipp and those above us can urge the younger lot to follow in our footsteps and try and reach for what we've achieved.
“I think it's important for Tottenham and any club to focus on the academy and young people.”
Tottenham stars are still being put through their paces under the watchful eye of manager Jose Mourinho with home workouts on Zoom.
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