Progress, not success: Ex-Spurs star Teddy Sheringham on Tottenham's season

SINGAPORE — It has been a memorable 2018/19 football season for Tottenham Hotspur: a third consecutive top-four finish in the English Premier League (EPL), and a first-ever appearance in the Uefa Champions League final.

But in the eyes of their former star striker Teddy Sheringham, he does not consider the season to be a success.

“Progress is what you would say about Tottenham’s season. For success in football, you have to be winning things,” the 51-year-old told Yahoo News Singapore on the sidelines of the AIA Football Kids Camp on Wednesday (12 June).

“Obviously we got into the Champions League final, but we didn’t win it. If we had won that, then that’s real success. That’s obviously the next step, but the progression is there for all to see – how Spurs are expanding worldwide with their football style, and the way they’ve been taking games to the opposition.”

Core Spurs players already in place

Indeed, under the tenure of manager Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs have developed an eye-catching style that has lifted the North London club to the higher echelons of the EPL in the past few seasons.

Yet, Liverpool’s 2-0 win in the Champions League final earlier this month means that Tottenham’s last major trophy remains the 2008 League Cup. Their last league title was a distant 58 years ago in 1961, back in the old English First Division.

Former Tottenham striker Teddy Sheringham meets Young Lions before their training session at Jalan Besar Stadium on 13 June 2019. (PHOTO: Chia Han Keong/Yahoo News Singapore)

Nevertheless, Sheringham hopes that his former club’s steady progression will eventually end the 11-year-long trophy drought.

He said, “Without a doubt, the core players are there: Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min. You need them to tell new players – whether brought up via the youth teams or brought in from other clubs – what the ethic of the club is, and how they need to keep progressing the way they have.

“I do see success happening eventually. The club have had their hands tied financially in recent years to build the new home stadium. But the stadium’s ready, and I think they will be investing in new players to add a little spark for Tottenham next season.”

Up to challengers to match Man City’s excellence

Sheringham had a long and successful 24-year playing career, primarily spent over two spells at Tottenham – from 1992 to 1997, and from 2001 to 2003. There, he established himself as one of the most intelligent strikers of his generation, adept at scoring as well as creating goals for his strike partners.

He is also revered at another major English club – Manchester United, where he spent four trophy-laden seasons in between his Tottenham stints. He was a vital cog in the Red Devils’ spectacular Treble season in 1998/99, when they won three major titles – the Premier League, FA Cup and the Champions League.

Former Tottenham striker Teddy Sheringham is presented with a Young Lions jersey from head coach Fandi Ahmad during their training session on 13 June 2019. (PHOTO: Chia Han Keong/Yahoo News Singapore)

It was an unprecedented success for an English club then, although Manchester City came close to emulating that last season, having also won three trophies: the EPL title as well as the League and FA Cups.

And Sheringham believes City – who won a record 32 out of 38 league games in each of their last two EPL seasons – will get even better next season.

He said, “They have just taken the game to another level in recent seasons. I think they’ll get better next season, if that’s possible.

“It’s up to teams like Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United to get better to chase them.”

Spurs, Man Utd in Singapore for ICC

Both Sheringham’s former clubs, Spurs and Man United, will be in Singapore for next month’s International Champions Cup (ICC) pre-season tournament, presented by AIA, where they will face Italian giants Inter Milan and Juventus respectively at the National Stadium.

Sheringham, who has frequently visited Singapore, says that he enjoys seeing the happy faces of football fans, young and old, when they see their favourite players coming to their part of the world.

“It helps me relive my childhood memories, seeing the kids looking so happy at the AIA Kids Camp,” he said. “To play football all day and then to see your favourite players signing autographs for you, I enjoyed that as a kid in England and I hope the kids in Singapore enjoyed this experience as well.”

From the Kids Camp, 37 kids were selected to become mascots for the upcoming ICC matches, where they will be paired up with football stars from the four clubs to walk down the National Stadium pitch.

Of these kids, 22 of them will go for a more in-depth training programme in Phuket in December, under Spurs’ Global Football Development initiative. These activities are part of AIA’s 100-year Centennial celebrations across Asia this year.

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