World of Sport

Ricketts: The best player you’ve never heard of

World of Sport

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Dawkins

Guest blogger and former Tottenham man Rohan Ricketts has seen the talent of Simon Dawkins close-up and believes he can still make an impact in the Premier League despite being 25.

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Fast-forward a week after the transfer window closed. Hundreds of players across the world will be feeling a bit more relaxed now it has finally slammed shut. The uncertainty that occurs during a window for players is not an easy thing to deal with, not just for them but also for their immediate families.

Football clubs have their own agendas and most of the time there is not much consideration for the player. I remember being in a situation while at Spurs and my manager, David Pleat, said I could go on loan. There were 10 hours left of the transfer window and I received an offer from Reading only for my manager to change his mind for no apparent reason. My agent and I were shocked because I was not in his plans and he had given me permission just the day before. He could not have cared less.

That's just a small insight into what clubs can be like - leaving the player in a position of uncertainty. Thanks, David!

Anyway, moving on from such an unforgettable experience, I wanted to speak on a specific transfer that probably went largely unnoticed to many, except Aston Villa fans. It was the loan signing of Simon Dawkins from Tottenham Hotspur. While this was probably one of the transfers that least concerned fans on deadline day, I believe it’s the most unique of all transfers, and for a variety of reasons.

Simon has been at Spurs since he was 12 years old. He came through their academy while I was at the club and went on to sign a professional contract in 2008 with the opportunity to force his way into the first team. Something Simon, for some strange reason, did not and still has not achieved.

You may think that it's normal for a young lad to go all the way through the academy ranks of a big Premier League club and never make his debut, which is very true. But the unique thing about this story is that Simon Dawkins is 25 years old and is still at the club yet has never made an appearance.

There can't be too many players in the history of football that have had such a career at any club let alone a top one.

So the question arises, why? Why have Tottenham Hotspur not released Simon, a player who has been a pro at the club for eight years and never managed to make his debut for the first team? Well there are two reasons. The first is that Simon is an extremely talented football player who is blessed with lovely balance, fantastic smooth control, good pace and an eye for goal. The second, and by far the most important reason, is the influential support from former player Tim Sherwood. Sherwood, some would say, has saved Simon from the lower league nonsense that beckons for most of the players that get released by Premier League clubs.

When Tim arrived at Tottenham in 2009, Simon had been released by the club due to a severe knee injury that coaches and officials at the club thought he would struggle to recover from. As a result, Simon found himself trialing around Britain and Europe to find a new club that would give him a chance.

After numerous unsuccessful trials with teams such as Celtic, Bournemouth and French side RC Strasbourg, Simon returned to Spurs where he was training on a non-contract basis. No promises were made but after Tim, newly appointed head coach of the development squad, had a chance to work with Simon, he was left dumbfound as to why such a talent had been released. When he quizzed people who were around at the time, nobody wanted to take responsibility for the decision.

Immediately Tim requested Simon be handed a two-year contract. He was sent on loan to MLS side San Jose Earthquakes where he made a big impression with plenty of goals and assists and gained a lot of first team experience. While I was training with Tottenham last season, Simon expressed to me his gratitude towards Tim and the rest of the club but said he needs to be given a real chance to show he belongs in the first team of a big club in the biggest league in the world.

Sadly he has not got that chance at Spurs as of yet but it seems the opportunity to sign for Aston Villa was the closest he may get to making a impact in the Premier League in the near future.

I know a lot of Aston Villa fans have no clue who Simon Dawkins is, and I totally understand why. But let me tell you this, for Tim to put his neck on the line and request Tottenham re-sign a player who they had released two years prior speaks volumes. Support him, he is very hungry and wants to produce the goods for your club. He is a true gent and humble guy. A footballer’s current status is not always based on his ability, a lot of the time players can be judged by coaches who don't have an eye for talent or have a hidden agenda, like my example of my run-in with David Pleat.

So think before you analyse Simon Dawkins and why he is yet to explode on the scene, when he is already 25 years old.

It's not that simple. Trust me I have been there and still am.

Simon I hope you get your chance to show the Villa fans all what Tim, myself and the rest of the coaches at Spurs know you can do.

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Rohan Ricketts started his career at Arsenal but went on to make his name in England with Tottenham and Wolves. He is one of the most travelled players in the world having played in Canada, Moldova, Germany, Ireland and India and he is currently playing for Club Deportivo Quevedo in Ecuador.

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