DeAndre Yedlin probably converted a fair few American football fans to Tottenham Hotspur fandom after he signed for Spurs from Seattle Sounders in January of 2015. However, the speedy right back quickly found himself stuck behind Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier during his short Spurs tenure and never really got a run in the team.
Yedlin was eventually loaned to Sunderland for a season and then sold (ironically) to Sunderland’s Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle, where he has established himself as a Premier League football, locking down a position as Rafa Benitez’s starting right back.
Now, ahead of the critical match between Toon and his old club at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday, Yedlin gave an interview with The Guardian where he says that he harbors no ill will towards Spurs or Pochettino, and that his time under Pochettino improved him as a footballer.
“Mauricio Pochettino [Spurs], Sam Allardyce [Sunderland] and Rafa have improved the defensive side of my game 100%. They’ve all got different qualities but they’ve all been good to me. Allardyce is more the traditional English coach, Pochettino’s a little bit standoffish, in the sense he just kind of lets you do your own thing, and Rafa’s much more hands-on. Rafa does a lot more one-on-one work with players.
“Playing at Wembley will be pretty cool. Even Americans have heard of Wembley! And I’ve still got a lot of friends at Spurs; people it will be great to see again.
“I understand [Pochettino’s] decision to leave me out. It’s all worked out, I’m very happy here. I thought London would be great but I actually found it pretty difficult. Newcastle feels more like home, more like Seattle, it’s more relaxed and the people are much friendlier. It’s a unique place – like nowhere else in England I’ve been. Newcastle’s fantastic.”
It’s slightly interesting to hear Yedlin talk about Pochettino being “standoffish,” since that’s not exactly been what we’ve been hearing from other players about his coaching style, but whatever.
I have no strong takes on Yedlin as a Premier League player. He certainly wasn’t as strong a player as Walker when he was here, but he was closest in skill-set to Walker when you compare him to Trippier, who has a very different style. I always was disappointed that Yedlin didn’t have a good run of games to prove himself in a Spurs shirt, but he was also only 21 at the beginning of his Spurs tenure, which is pretty young for a Premier League fullback.
Regardless, I’m happy that Yedlin has found his feet in the Premier League. He’s proven himself to be good enough to play — and stay — in the league, no small feat for an American footballer. I also hope that Son Heung-Min tears his soul from Yedlin’s body on his way past him heading towards goal, but that’s just the fan in me talking.