The Spurs Star On Being Picked Up By Watford & Dropped By England And More ...

Interview by Gavin Willacy

Obviously, you'll be pleased with Tottenham's progress in the UEFA Cup but you are not doing as well as you'd like in the league, are you?
"Yeah, we're probably doing just as well as we'd hoped. If we'd done any better we'd be probably third or fourth in the league and we wouldn't have hoped to be that high at this stage."

But the way Spurs finished last season and got into Europe by winning the Worthington Cup must make you hope for great things this year...
"Getting into the UEFA Cup was a bonus and this year we want to progress and do well in the competition. We've got a manager who's had a lot of success in Europe and a lot of players who have played European football so hopefully we can go quite a way."

Your last game for Blackburn was against Spurs in January. Both teams were in the bottom half of the league but the way the two clubs have drifted apart since then must make you pleased you made the move, with Spurs in Europe and Rovers mid-table in Division One...
"Yeah. I was happy to stay at Blackburn but they made it clear they didn't really want me any more so I was pleased to go to Tottenham. It turned out to be a good move for me because as soon as I got there I got the England call-up and really never looked back. I just try to play well for Spurs and since I've been there I think I've played more good games than bad ones."

So if you are in form it must make it particularly disappointing and
surprising that you are not in the England squad. Mind you, there are about seven players going for two or three places in midfield now, with Batty, Beckham, Redknapp, Scholes, Ince, Butt, yourself...

"Yes, it's disappointing but maybe next time. It's very tough at the moment but you just have to play well for your side and hope the manager likes you and gives you a chance. And then you've got to take that chance. There are a lot of great players around. You mentioned a few there but there are some young ones too and the Sweden-Poland game will decide who plays against Belgium."

So do you think you can still get back into the England side?
"I think I've got more chance of getting back in if we get to the play-offs than I have if they don't, because of my age (Tim is 30). Obviously he's got to look to the future and he's got to give the good, young, promising players a chance if we don't qualify."

What has it been like playing with Steffen Freund?
"He's experienced but he's not so different, except for being foreign. He's an English type of player; he digs in, he tries hard, he's a hundred-per-center. I've enjoyed playing with him. I started off the season playing with Darren Anderton and he's an excellent player. We really miss him now he's injured but I have to concentrate on my own game and work off each other whoever's alongside me."

But Darren's completely different to Freund, isn't he?
"Yeah. It changes my game a little bit but I have to that accordingly. I'm experienced enough now to be able to do that. I don't dislike having to change my game - I've had to do that throughout my career. It's very rare that you would play a whole season with the same midfield partner, week-in, week-out, so you have to be able to adapt."

Does George Graham work with you much personally on the training ground?
"No, not really. I think he knows what the players can do when he buys them from other clubs so he doesn't try to change them. He just hopes you can produce the form for him that you did for your previous club. He knows what the players he's got can do, so he's trying to organise them as a team, not individually."

Finally, you're here at the launch of the Coca-Cola Under-13 London Schools Cup. What were your experiences playing football back at school in Borehamwood?
"I played for Nicholas Hawksmoor School and then branched off and played Sunday league football in the local area. From there I got spotted by Watford when I was playing for a local team in Kingsbury. I played for Mid-Herts and for Hertfordshire Schools, but not every year. I'd say I was a late developer. Watford did not pick me up until I was 14 or 15 when I went training there twice a week, before becoming a trainee at 16."

Did you play with anyone else in school teams who went on to turn pro?
"No, I don't think so, and that shows how hard it is. It is very unlikely that more than two or three will come out of a county side. It's the time after 14 or 15 that is the important time. More and more now you get players who develop later - Vinnie Jones, Ian Wright - who played all the time but got jobs and went on from there. It's never too late for anyone. They may be more hungry. They know what it's like in the real world. I don't."

For information on Spurs check out Football 365 at http://www.football365.co.uk/homeground/tottenham/

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