‘Ronaldinho’s successor’ and the ‘next Drogba’ – Five Tottenham starlets who didn’t make the grade, unlike Harry Kane

Even for the most gifted footballers in the world, getting to the top of the game is a hard-fought process.

Tottenham superstar Harry Kane was always talented but he still had to overcome several obstacles in his way to become the player he is today.

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Harry Kane’s Tottenham future is in the balance at the moment after comments he made during a Q&A
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Loan spells in the Football League, injuries, multi-million pound rivals like Roberto Soldado, a penalty miss on his debut and much more besides could have stopped him in his tracks, but he was able to rise above it all.

He may have even outgrown the club and it’s no surprise to hear how ambitious he is as he targets silverware.

Similarly, Harry Winks has come to the fore in north London having progressed through the Spurs academy, while Oliver Skipp seems set to follow in their footsteps with Jose Mourinho reportedly keen to give him more minutes.

Not all players are able to make the grade, though, and some highly-rated prospects don’t always go on to have the senior careers many expect them to.

So, which promising Tottenham talents weren’t able to make the grade in N17? talkSPORT.com takes a look…

Phil Ifil

Aged 17, the right-back burst onto the scene in spectacular fashion in 2004 when, despite a huge summer overhaul, he started the first two games of the campaign.

They weren’t easy either, coming against Liverpool and Newcastle, but he excelled as Spurs claimed a 1-1 draw with the Reds – armed with new signing Djibril Cisse and set for Champions League glory at the end of the campaign.

The next week against the Magpies, Ifil was superb again in a 1-0 victory, denying Alan Shearer the chance to score.

Stephen Kelly and Noe Pamarot then kept him out of the side, but the scope was there for the youngster to grow and he also got a substitute role against Burnley in the League Cup.

Two years on, after a spell with Millwall, Ifil made two more appearance for Spurs – his last for the club – in a 3-1 League Cup win over Port Vale and then in a 3-3 draw in the Premier League against Wigan.

After the draw with the Latics, manager Martin Jol was delighted with the youngster, then 20, after his display out of position at left-back: “He’s a real Spurs player,” said the Dutchman.

“A home-grown player with a great mentality and a very good career ahead of him.”

Sadly, though, he never played for the Lilywhites again, playing for Colchester United, Dagenham & Redbridge, and Kettering Town.

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Phil Ifil was a talented young right-back
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John Bostock

In May 2008, a controversial transfer from Crystal Palace looked to be just a blip at the start of something special for the talented midfielder.

Just a couple of months later, he was Tottenham’s youngest ever player, aged 16 and 295 days, with a cameo in the Europa League against Dinamo Zagreb.

Later on in the campaign he made another two substitute appearances, this time in both legs against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Then, though, came a series of loan spells as his progress faltered. He spent time with Brentford, Hull, Sheffield Wednesday, Swindon Town and Toronto FC.

Before his spell with the Owls in 2012, he made one last senior appearance for Spurs, off the bench in an FA Cup tie against Cheltenham Town.

He was released in 2013 but, rather than stick at it in England, he moved to Belgian’s second tier with Royal Antwerp before relegated OH Leuven swooped the next year.

He helped OH Leuven earn promotion back to the top flight and was named the league’s Player of the Season, which got him a move to France with Lens.

Again he did well, and was named Ligue 2’s best player in 2016/17 as his renaissance continued and, after a spell in Turkey with Bursaspor and one campaign in Ligue 1 with Toulouse, he now finds himself back in the Championship with Nottingham Forest.

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John Bostock makes his debut for Tottenham at the age of just 16
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Steven Caulker

There was a point in 2012 where it looked like the sky was the limit for Caulker as he starred for Spurs and became an England international.

Sadly, things didn’t quite pan out that way as his career stalled.

A shock move to Cardiff City, for the sum of £8million, took many by surprise, including ex-teammate Angel Rangel who played with Caulker on loan at Welsh rivals Swansea.

“He could play for Arsenal or these kind of teams, [but] he’s gone to Cardiff for some reason,” the Spaniard said at the time. “I didn’t expect it, but he knows he will probably be playing regularly, week-in, week-out.”

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Steven Caulker in action for Tottenham
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The Bluebirds, though, were relegated despite a fine haul of five goals from Caulker, but a stay in the Premier League emerged as he jumped ship to Queens Park Rangers.

However, relegation followed again before a loan spell to Southampton in 2015/16, but this was later cancelled and he joined Liverpool until the end of the same campaign. He bizarrely made his Reds debut against Arsenal as a makeshift striker off the bench and continued the role against Manchester United and Norwich City, nabbing an assist in the latter clash.

Back at QPR he began to assert himself in the Championship but injury struck and he later revealed the personal issues dogging him, with addiction troubling him.

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Steven Caulker in action for QPR

A spell at Dundee got him back on track again and now he finds himself playing in Turkey with Alanyaspor and has one goal and five assists as they push for European football.

He now also does charity work across the globe and offers help to other footballers who are struggling off the pitch.

Cristian Ceballos

Once touted as a successor to Ronaldinho after a video of the player juggling a football with the Brazilian went viral.

At Barcelona his career was stymied by injuries but a trial at Tottenham saw him signed up and many were excited about the ex-Camp Nou prodigy.

In the reserves he was prolific but just couldn’t break into the first team despite making it onto the bench on several occasions.

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Cristian Ceballos in action for Spurs
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He joined Charlton after leaving Spurs but he believes injuries and managerial changes left him unable to make a mark.

A spell in Belgium with Sint Truiden was fine but he appears now to be in good form with Al-Wakrah in the Qatar Stars League.

Souleymane Coulibaly

After a stunning nine-goal haul, including a hat-trick against Brazil, at the 2011 Under-17 World Cup the whole globe had its eyes on the young Ivorian.

Naturally, he was labelled the next Didier Drogba and Spurs pipped Manchester United and Real Madrid to his signature.

In 2012, a great goal and a back-flipping celebration against Southampton at White Hart Lane increased interest in the player from fans, who believed they had a real wonderkid on their hands.

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Souleymane Coulibaly was once likened to Didier Drogba
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A loan move to Italy didn’t pan out and he later left permanently to Bari without making a first-team appearance.

Coulibaly returned to England with Peterborough, while spells with Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle sandwiched a six-goal haul in nine games for Egyptian side Al Ahly.

He’s now with Tunisian side ES Sahel and is only 25 years old.


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