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Spurs Japanese youth starlet Cy Goddard / サイゴダード

6:30 pm
It hasn't made big news but it is big news, or could be for Tottenham Hotspur. A young 17-year-old youth player is representing Japan over England.

Cy Goddard / サイゴダード

Cy Goddard / サイゴダード

Position:  Attacking midfield
Club:  Tottenham Hotspur
Date of Birth:  02 April 1997 (16 years old)
Place of Birth:  London, England
Nationality:  Japanese/English
Height: 163 cm

Cy Goddard is a half-Japanese, half-English attacking midfielder. He has an English father and a Japanese mother. We live in an age where nationality is virtually irrelevant to who you play for. Live in a country for a few years and suddenly your nationality has changed and you can play for a country that in truth you shouldn't be.

Diego Costa is a case in point, yet another Brazilian playing for a foreign team. He represented Brazil and in the same year represented Spain before going to the World Cup with them 6 months later. He had suddenly qualified to play for Spain because he had been living there for 5 years while playing there, now of course he has moved to London, does that make him English in a few years, no. If he felt Spanish, why was he playing for Brazil? He clearly only 'felt' Spanish when he was told he wouldn't be picked by Brazil.

Cy Goddard has made a decision I applaud. The fact that he doesn't even speak Japanese and is taking lessons twice a week after training only adds to that, it demonstrates we might have someone on our hands with the right mental attitude. He has always dreamt of playing for Japan since he was 10 and when England asked him to represent them he declined.

"I have never really wanted to play for England. Always my mindset was that I wanted to play for Japan. Since I was 10, it's always been an ambition of mine. 
"If they keep progressing as quickly, then they will be better than England and a lot of nations in the future. I think a lot of the boys (in this country's youth system) are also looking elsewhere rather than England. 
"A lot of people in the youth system are not really admiring the England team and the English way of playing football. For me, I have always pictured myself playing for Japan."

Scouts from the Japanese Football Association heard about him and made a special trip to see him play. They were impressed with what they saw and called him into an Under 16 tournament in France in 2013. As this is youth football he is still eligible for England at senior level, not that he has any intention of playing for England. At that prestigious Montagiu tournament he was awarded the MVP (Most valuable Player) trophy.

"I was nervous. You are thrown into a whole different situation that you haven’t experienced. I’m not the best at speaking Japanese, but I was able to settle in really well. They helped me with tactics, and other things you come to understand as you play. 
"You can also understand through hand signals. If I wanted them to pass, I would just say “Yeah” in English."

You are thrown into a whole different situation you haven't experienced. That sounds like the England senior team. While every major country around the world plays their best players at age level tournament, even if they are first-team club stars, England doesn't pick them because Premier League clubs won't let them.

While every other nation has players used to an international tournament and know how to play in it's unique environment, for England it's all new to a lot of them. Clubs are not interested in England at all, they simply pay lip service to it. Hardly surprising someone like Goddard prefers to play for someone else.

Japan Under 16 coach Hirofumi Yoshitake has been impressed with him and last year revealed after a Toyota international youth tournament in Japan that he got on well with his teammates and he could still communicate with the team despite the language barrier. That was the first time Goddard had played in Japan, he doesn't intend it to be the last.

It's not just enough to have the skill, you have to have the right attitude as well and Goddard demonstrates that. There were barriers to him playing for Japan but he is overcoming them, not being able to speak the language for him wasn't a barrier, just a hurdle to jump. It's the attitude footballers should show at all levels, even in the first-team, in fact especially in the first-team.

Amusingly though Yoshtake said Goddard's best feature was that he didn't listen to his instructions, he just trusts his football instincts to do the right thing. He hasn't been brought up in a Japanese sporting culture so the two are learning together.

As the video of that final victory for Japan in 2013 shows, he has a sweet left foot and can pick out a pass.

In January he played in an U19 youth tournament for Tottenham in Vietnam although at the moment he plays mainly for the U18 side and before setting his sites on a full international cap he wants to represent Japan at the Tokoyo Olympics in 2020.

The Japanese love their football, they have embraced the sport and put a league structure in place, the result of which is that they have become the dominant side in Asia.

Asia is a massive football market and an area Spurs are keen to build a bigger fan base. They follow their football stars abroad. When Manchester United had Shinji Kagawa playing for them their popularity in Japan went through the roof. That leads to commercial deals for any company that wants to market through football to the Japanese market.

It's early days but if Cy Goddard develops and become a Spurs first-team player then we could see a similar explosion in popularity in Asia, just as DeAndre Yedlin will do our popularity in America a power of good. Sporting idols are big business.

I welcome his decision to represent Japan, it could be a financially brilliant decision for us in years to come. He would like to play in the World Cup for Japan but for now he has learning to do at Tottenham. Professional contracts are not guaranteed so he'll have to earn his and that would also make him a home-grown player.

"I would like to go out and play in Japan one day,’ continues Goddard. ‘When I went to Japan and saw the crowds, I was impressed. 

"They are just so passionate, similar to Italian fans. It is a great environment if you are playing in front of that crowd.
"One of my ambitions is to represent Japan in a massive tournament, but I think that is a bit too far in the future to think about at the moment."

He uses both feet, has excellent close control, dribbling and tactical awareness. He has made steady progress in the Spurs youth ranks and is one of the brightest Japanese talents in his age group. He has already made an Under 21 appearance for us for 21 minutes in an U21 Premier League game against Sunderland in April.

Let's hope he continues his progress, reaches his goals and is a Spurs player when he does.

Spurs Japanese youth starlet Cy Goddard / サイゴダード Spurs Japanese youth starlet Cy Goddard / サイゴダード Reviewed by THBlogNews on 6:30 pm Rating: 5
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