Japhet Tanganga has come a long way in a relatively short period at Tottenham Hotspur.
The defender was handed his first-team debut against Colchester United in the EFL Cup last September, which was then followed by his Premier League bow against Liverpool in January.
His inclusion that day by Jose Mourinho raised many eyebrows, especially with the youngster being asked to play slightly out of position at right-back.
His direct opponent at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium? None other than one of the world’s best forwards in Sadio Mane.
Many anticipated a rough ride for Tanganga, but the 21-year-old held his own against the £34 million Senegalese superstar (BBC Sport).
Reflecting on the experience, he told talkSPORT: “The boss pulled me aside a couple of days before the game and said, ‘do you want to play at the weekend?’, and I was like, ‘well, yeah!’
“Even though I was nervous I obviously couldn’t say no – that’s what we train for.
“So before the game I was YouTubing Mane and basically scouting him.
“I was watching him twisting guys up and I was like, ‘this could be me, man’. So I was nervous, but I had a decent game and he didn’t embarrass me or anything.”
TBR’s View – The future’s bright for Tanganga
Although Spurs lost the game 1-0, it was a solid effort from Tanganga against Mane, and the youngster went on to catch the eye a number of times after that performance.
It is clear Spurs have a potential gem on their hands and there’s a good chance he could have extra responsibility in 2020/21, especially with him being so versatile.
The Lilywhites faithful will sure hope to see the £25,000-a-week youngster (The Times) as often as possible in order to continue his fine development.