Ryan Mason: Overcoming Nightmares for England’s Youngest Coach

Ryan Mason officially becomes the youngest head coach in the Premier League on April 20, 2021. When he was the head coach of Tottenham Hotspur, he was only 29 years and 10 months old. Eight Spurs players are even older than him. He was appointed as interim coach after Tottenham ousted Jose Mourinho. The day after his appointment, Mason again scored a record as a youth coach who won in the EPL. He led the Spurs to beat Southampton on April 21 yesterday.

The 2-1 win over Southampton was an important result for Tottenham. The three points revived the Spurs’ hopes of qualifying for UEFA competition. The Lilywhites have failed to win in the last three matches before entertaining Soton. In Mourinho’s last six games, Spurs only won one win. The victory was also special for Mason. He managed to win in his debut party as a senior team coach. And more importantly, the victory was won with the club he has loved since childhood.

“I have been connected with this club for over 20 years, a very long time, experiencing it as a player and as a coach as well. To be trusted with this opportunity and to be able to help the club is a big honor. And I will do my best to make this club proud, “said the former Spurs player after being appointed head coach. Ryan Mason entered Tottenham’s youth development system since he was seven years old. He is one of the best players in the academy of his generation. His peers also stole the attention and most of them managed to graze at Premier League clubs, including Steven Caulker, Jake Livermore, Danny Rose and Andros Townsend.

In the Tottenham youth team, Mason appeared prolific. This brilliant performance earned him his senior team debut in 2008, at the age of 17. He came off as a substitute when his team faced NEC Nijmegen in the UEFA Cup. However, despite appearing promising for the youth team, Mason had to wait a long time to break into Tottenham’s senior team. Writing for FourFourTwo, he said the Spurs academy staff thought he was not ready for the Premier League. The reason is, his physical growth is relatively slow compared to his peers.

The player born in Enfield, north London also had to undergo a series of loan spells at League One and Championship clubs. Mason played for Yeovil Town, Doncaster Rovers and Swindon Town in 2009-2014. In 2014/15, Mason started to get the chance he deserved in the Premier League. In Mauricio Pochettino’s debut season, he appeared in 31 EPL matches. The following season, Mason helped The Lilywhites qualify for the Champions League.

However, the lack of a guaranteed starter made Mason leave when he was 25 years old. In 2016/17, he was signed by Hull City for a fee of 13 million pounds, breaking the Tigers transfer record. Mason intends to save his career with Hull. However, his work as a footballer ended badly. In January 2017, in a match against Chelsea, Mason sustained a life-threatening injury. His skull was fractured after colliding with Gary Cahill while fighting for a hull ball. Mason was immediately taken to the hospital and had to be operated on.

“I remember feeling great pain [after surgery]. I have 14 metal plates on the skull, with 28 screws holding them in place and 45 staples. I am a lucky person [to have survived the injury], “Mason wrote. Ryan Mason gradually recovered and started rehabilitation in preparation for returning to the field. In 2017, he returned to training. However, after carrying out a scan, the doctor advised him to stop playing football.

“My scans in February [2018] showed some problems in the brain. We spoke with several neurosurgeons and specialists, and they underlined the facts about what can happen if I play again, “he continued. According to doctors, Mason could develop dementia or epilepsy if he continued his career as a footballer. Mason also had to make a difficult decision: retire when he was 26 years old.

Twice Saved by Pochettino

Early retirement was difficult for Mason at first. However, he finally got used to it. Mason did not take long to return to a career in football. At the end of the 2017/18 season, Mason met with John McDermott, his former coach at the Spurs academy. McDermott offered him to join the Tottenham academy coaching staff.

Pochettino, who at that time was still training Tottenham, wanted him to return to the club. During his time playing, Pochettino was also the first to give him the opportunity to appear regularly. After taking coaching courses, Mason officially became the coach of the Spurs youth team. He is trusted to handle the U-19 team when competing in the UEFA Youth League. Last August 2020, Mason was promoted to Head of Youth Player Development, replacing McDermott, who is now working in the FA.

Currently, Mason is studying to get the UEFA Pro license. This license was my prerequisite to become the head coach at the highest level of the domestic league in Europe. As an interim without a UEFA Pro license, Mason can only train the Spurs for a maximum of 12 weeks.

Ryan Mason is likely to coach the Spurs senior team until the end of the 2020/21 season. Although briefly, he faced tough challenges alongside Harry Kane and colleagues. The Spurs mission is to finish in the Champions League zone. Now they are still struggling at number six. Tottenham are only two points adrift of Chelsea in fourth place. However, they have played one more game. Other Spurs competitors, namely Liverpool and Everton, still have saved matches.

In addition, Mason has the tough task of leading his team in the League Cup final. He will face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on April 25. While playing, Mason once defended Spurs in the 2015 League Cup final. His team lost to Chelsea by a score of 0-2 at that time. Now, with a different position, can Mason produce better results and end his fast for club titles?

ASL

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