Jose Mourinho’s relatively short stint in charge of Tottenham isn’t remembered especially fondly, but – contrary to his reputation – he did hand a number of promising youngsters their debuts during his 17 months at the helm.
The Portuguese coach is famous for leaning heavily on expensive and experienced signings, but Spurs’ European excursions gave him an opportunity to lean on the academy starlets.
We’ve revisited the eight kids that Mourinho gave debuts to and checked in on how they’re getting on today.
Bon and raised in North London, centre-back Fagan-Walcott progressed through the youth ranks with Tottenham and signed his first professional deal in 2018.
Unfortunately for him, his debut was an occasion to forget – he was brought on in injury time for Serge Aurier as Spurs crashed out of the Champions League in a humbling 3-0 defeat at RB Leipzig.
Three years later and the defender has only made a couple more senior appearances – on loan at Dundee in the Scottish Championship in the 2020-21 season. He’s recently been released by his boyhood club and is currently a free agent.
Not a Tottenham academy graduate, but we’re including Clarke because he clocked up more minutes for Spurs’ youth team than he did the seniors.
The winger had shown plenty of potential in his breakthrough season at Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United, causing Tottenham to end an 18-month transfer drought to sign him up as a teenager for a £10million fee during Mauricio Pochettino’s final summer in charge.
Clarke was immediately loaned back to Elland Road, but he struggled for chances – which largely set the tone for his stint with the club.
“I’d just been on quite an unsuccessful loan at QPR and he knew, obviously. He just said: ‘Either you’re shit, or QPR are shit. And we’ll find out today.'” recalled Clarke of his first pre-season under the Portuguese coach in an interview with The Athletic.
He since made his senior debut as a late substitute in a 3-0 Europa League victory over LASK, but he only made four appearances totalling 95 minutes for the club before being sold at a considerable loss to Sunderland last summer.
But after initially impressing on loan, Clarke has reignited his career up on Wearside and was among the best players in the Championship last season. He’s now being linked with moves back to the Premier League once again.
WOW!! How about this for a team goal. Superb football from Sunderland. ⚽ pic.twitter.com/v6rxJNF9Uw
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) September 14, 2022
“He’s a kid but he’s a talented kid. Is he ready for the responsibilities, for the intensity, for the physicality of the Premier League? No,” was Mourinho’s frank assessment after White featured during his one and only pre-season at Tottenham back in 2020.
“But is he ready to train with us every day to have this evolution and to play in these matches and eventually in some official matches where we need to rotate players? Yes, he is, so good for him.”
The midfielder had featured in friendlies but made his competitive debut off the bench in a 4-0 Europa League victory over Ludogorets Razgrad.
Since then he’s been loaned out to Portsmouth, made a solitary Premier League cameo under Antonio Conte, and spent the latter half of last season out on loan at Derby County.
New boss Ange Postecoglou has reportedly tested the 21-year-old out at left-back in pre-season training, but a first-team role next season looks unlikely.
With three points in the bag, Tottenham-born ‘keeper Whiteman was handed his debut by replacing Joe Hart in the late stages after Moura had put Spurs 4-0 up against Ludogorets.
That remains his only appearance for Spurs. He’s since been loaned out a couple of times to Swedish club Degerfors, and earlier this year signed a new contract that runs until 2025. You’d expect to see Whiteman continuing his role of filling the homegrown quota as a third-choice option for the foreseeable future.
White and Whitemen weren’t the only academy starlets that made their debuts against Ludogorets. Brought on for Lucas Moura in the 82nd minute, Scarlett became Spurs’ youngest debutant of all time at 16 years, eight months and two days old.
He’s only made a further six appearances in the three years since then, but he’s still only 19 and remains well on the right track. The forward got a season’s worth of experience under his belt on loan at Portsmouth last term and was part of England’s Under-19 European Championship-winning squad last summer.
Scarlett remains one to watch.
Scarlett’s record lasted less than a year. Devine – who was signed from Wigan after they went into administration – broke his Under-18 team-mate’s record by enjoying a dream debut for Spurs aged 16 years and 163 days, coming on and scoring to cap off a 5-0 FA Cup victory away at non-league Marine.
Mourinho gave the teenager the tough love approach with a shot of reality, sending him “back to where he belongs” – the youth set-up.
Just one further senior appearance has followed, but he’s still only 18. Devine played alongside Scarlett in England’s 2022 UEFA European Under-19 Championship victory and also featured for the Young Lions at the Under-20 World Cup in Argentina earlier this summer.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 10, 2021
Having left Chelsea’s academy to join the youth set-up at Tottenham, Lavinier spent two years on the club’s books but made just one senior appearance – as a late substitute for Matt Doherty in a 4-0 Europa League victory over Wolfsberger AC.
A few weeks later, Mourinho was sacked. Lavinier didn’t hang around much longer either; he was released at the end of his contract in 2022 and subsequently signed for Swindon Town. The right-back made 23 appearances last term as the Robins finished 10th in League Two.
London lad John came on alongside Lavinier in that Europa League win over Wolfsberger (we’re sensing a bit of a theme here).
The 20-year-old midfielder’s second appearance came in a 1-0 UEFA Conference qualifying defeat to Pacos Ferreira in August 2021, and he’s still awaiting a third. In January 2022 he went out on loan to Charlton but returned to his parent club without making a single appearance for the Addicks.
After another year of developing with the Under-21s, John recently signed a new two-year deal.
“I’ve been here since I was a kid so, to get this done, I’m really pleased,” he told the official club website.
“It’s been all my life, really. From the earliest memories of Frenford and the Lodge so, to be here, carrying it on, it’s something that I hold deeply.”