The first of two test events in the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium will take place on March 24 as Spurs’ U18 squad will take on Southampton U18s in front of 30,000 Spurs fans. This means Tottenham’s teenagers will have the distinction of playing the first official football of any kind in the new ground.
There’s something else interesting about that match as well — the club announced that former Spurs player and academy graduate Ryan Mason will be in the dugout for this match.
If you’re a relatively new Tottenham fan: Ryan Mason was one of the first Spurs academy players to break through into the first team since Harry Kane, and one of the first under Mauricio Pochettino. A central midfielder, Mason played a prominent role along with Nabil Bentaleb in Pochettino’s first season at Spurs, but was sold to Hull City in 2016. Early in 2017, Mason fractured his skull in a collision with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill, an injury that led to his early retirement from the game at the age of 25.
The U18s are under the responsibility of head coach Matt Wells, but since his retirement from football Mason has returned to Tottenham as a coach working with a number of the underage teams, as he works towards achieving his coaching badges. Mason will be in the dugout as part of Wells’ coaching staff.
Say what you want about Mason as a player (he certainly divided opinion on this website!) but I think it’s fantastic that the club has welcomed back and are helping him start a career in coaching. And it’s pretty darned cool that he’ll be one of the first to experience a match in the new ground.