Once upon a time there was a Tottenham midfielder.
But not just a midfielder, a perfect midfielder. A prince among men. A budding young English superstar, one poised to take world football by storm and lead Tottenham Hotspur to Premier League — nay, Champions League! — titles.
Tom Carroll once the great hope of Tottenham’s academy. We at Cartilage Free Captain have been watching him and his development from a skinny teenager pinging through-balls from central midfield to a... uh, skinny 25-year old who successfully cracked Spurs’ first team. It led former Carty-Free writer Ryan Rosenblatt to coin the phrase that for years was the official motto of this website:
“I’m drunk, but I think Tom Carroll is going to be Xavi.”
Sometimes dreams are shattered in the harsh light of reality.
Today, Tottenham Hotspur announced that, after a successful medical, wee Tommy Carroll, now 25, has successfully completed a transfer to Swansea City. The fee was not stated, but previous reports suggested that it was in the realm of £4.5m.
In what can only be considered a staggering failure of Mauricio Pochettino’s vision and evaluative skills, Tom Carroll was considered fifth choice at central midfield, behind Mousa Dembele, Victor Wanyama, Eric Dier, and fellow academy grad Harry Winks. It was through Tom’s integrity and desire to help save British football that he turned down an offer from FC Barcelona to help save Swansea from the specter of relegation. His commitment is to be honored, even as we mourn his loss.
Along the way, we have reveled in his successes, such as his senior debut goal against Monaco in the 2015-16 Europa League and his goal against Colchester in the FA Cup. Did he have YouTube highlight videos set to bad techno music? You bet he did.
Unfortunately, our admiration for Tom has been from afar ever since he blocked @cartilagefree on Twitter for Skipjack’s infamous “Sex, drugs, and through balls: life on the road with Tom Carroll” article, which we like to think was gleefully passed around the Tottenham development squad locker room on a warm August day in 2013. He may not know about our admiration, but not for our lack of trying.
Tom Carroll was always too good for Tottenham Hotspur. It’s only fitting that he moves to a place where his skills can be utilized for good, where his pinpoint 40-yard passes will set up another wayward Hotspur, Gylfi Sigurdsson. He is needed in Wales. He can save football.
As for us, well, we shall persevere. Keep calm and watch Marcus Edwards. Tom Carroll wasn’t the first player in the Premier League era to come out of Spurs’ academy (that was Ledley King), nor was he even the best (that was also probably Ledley King). He was, however, the one that captured our hearts and inspired us to dream about bigger and better things.
Fare you well, English Xavi. You will be missed.