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Pochettino: Oliver Skipp played with a maturity that belies his age

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“I am so proud of him. I think everyone is proud of him.”

Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley FC - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

18-year old midfielder Oliver Skipp earned his first Premier League start as a Tottenham Hotspur player in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Burnley at Wembley Stadium. While it wasn’t his first action with the first team — he got a cameo against Southampton and in the EFL Cup win over West Ham — Skippy is the 13th academy product whom Mauricio Pochettino has given their first team debut.

And by the sound of things, Pochettino is hoping that Skipp has the potential to be one of the best. Speaking to the press after the win, he said he was incredibly proud of what his young player accomplished against a resolute Burnely defense.

“Fantastic, fantastic, I think he played like a 30-year-old man. So relaxed, trying to play forward and trying to give the team what the team needs, plenty of energy, full energy, I am so proud of him. I think everyone is proud of him. He is only 18 years old and I think it was fantastic.

“Now I think it is going to be easy for him because always in [your] debut you are nervous. I remember when it was my first game and I said to him ‘you look so relaxed. When I was 17, going to play I was so nervous’. I said ‘That is the difference between a player going to be a top player and a player who was going to be normal player like me’.”

If we’re honest with ourselves, Skipp’s first team debut only came about due to a near catastrophic injury situation in Spurs’ midfield — Tottenham were without Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama due to injury, Harry Winks due to rotation, and Eric Dier due to a virus. And Skipp played pretty well considering the circumstance of his debut. It doesn’t seem like a stretch to suggest that, so long as Dembele and Wanyama are still dead, Skippy will probably make a few benches and might even come in for some late minutes the way Harry Winks did early in his first team career.

Skippy was pretty happy with his Premier League starting XI debut as well!

If you’re wondering, here’s the full list of the 13 academy graduates who Pochettino has given first team minutes to. Not all of them have gone on to make a mark, but all are playing football somewhere. It’s a testament to Pochettino and the way he brings young players through.

  • Harry Winks (2014)
  • Josh Onomah (2015)
  • Cameron Carter-Vickers (2016)
  • Marcus Edwards (2016)
  • Anton Walkes (2016)
  • Shayon Harrison (2016)
  • Filip Lesniak (2017)
  • Kyle Walker-Peters (2017)
  • Tashan Oakley-Boothe (2017)
  • Anthony Georgiou (2018)
  • Luke Amos (2018)
  • George Marsh (2018)
  • Oliver Skipp (2018)