Tottenham's Japhet Tanganga reveals ground staff spell as a crucial turning point in his career

Matt Davies
Man of the match: Tanganga poses with his award after Middlesbrough win: Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I

Tottenham break-out star Japhet Tanganga has highlighted a spell working with the club's ground staff as a turning point in his footballing career.

The 21-year-old has broken into the Tottenham squad, with Jose Mourinho praising his maturity and ability to play in any position across the defence.

Pointed out as the man that once marked Cristiano Ronaldo by Mourinho during the coach's first training session at the club, the Englishman has gone on to make 11 appearances, including against RB Leipzig in the Champions League.

Tanganga has revealed he worked with the Tottenham ground staff during his time with the Under-18s, a period that made him realise quite how hard he would need to work to achieve his goals.

“Honestly, looking back at it now, I would say that was the turning point,” Tanganga told Tottenham's website. “That was when the penny dropped, just seeing how passionate the ground staff were in their job.


"You’re coming in early, it’s cold, you’re working outside, but the passion that they have for how they work, maintaining the pitches, placing the flowers around the edge of the training ground, how precise they are and how they pay attention to detail.

"It’s amazing and it made me realise that I do love football and whether things are or aren’t going my way, this is my passion and I’ve just got to take it seriously. I’ve been given a gift to be able to play football so I shouldn’t misuse it."

Tanganga insists the spell was the hardest of his U18s year but remains grateful to the ground staff after such an enlightening journey.

"My dad was involved with it as well," the defender added. "He felt that I needed to work, to be in an adult environment to understand the position that I’m in.

“I still speak to the ground staff now. When I see them, they’re happy to see me playing in the stadium and it’s just great because they’re all top, top people.

"They make the training ground and stadium the way they are and when so many people compliment us about Tottenham’s facilities, it’s due to the ground staff and how great they make everything for us.

"They are just amazing and they – along with my coaches, of course – helped to shape me into who I am today. I’m not the finished article, I’m still growing, but it all started from there to be honest.”

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