January 15, 2015

Josh Onomah – a profile

17-year old Josh Onomah made his Tottenham Hotspur debut last night, coming off the bench to replace Andros Townsend on 76 minutes.

Tim Sherwood took Josh to Benfica with the first-team squad as a 16-year old, and the player was then also an unused substitute against Dnipropetrovsk in February, Beşiktaş in December and the first leg of the Burnley tie earlier this month. Born and raised in Enfield, he has been talked up by most who have seen him over the past two years – myself included.

He’s a central midfielder, and his main attributes are his dribbling, balance, pace, and strength. He’s strong in possession and hard to knock off the ball – the way that he bursts into gaps and dribbles in a natural, powerful way have earned him the nickname ‘Pogba-lite’ amongst some; the likeness is clear to see.

Josh joined Spurs as an Under-9, and has represented England at Under-16, 17 and 18 levels. He was a part of the England Under-17 squad that won the European Championships in May, 2013. It sometimes feels that when a young player gets picked for the national side at youth level, that they are subsequently kept in and around the set-up regardless of their progress or the progress of alternative options. However, with Onomah it feels natural that he will continue to represent England all the way to Under-21 level, and hopefully beyond.

Martin Lipton, the Daily Mirror journalist, named Onomah in his ‘How England might look in 2018 XI‘ back in July 2014, saying: “I’m backing Tottenham’s Joshua Onomah to fulfil his promise and come through.”

Onomah is so highly-rated internally that, despite technically being a second-year scholar, he has already signed a professional contract. This generally happens when the club wants to tie exceptional players down, and is quite a rare occurrence at Spurs.

I first saw Onomah as a 15-year old and it was immediately clear that he was immensely talented, although he was quite loose with some of his passing. There had appeared to be question marks over his temperament – I remember seeing him with a face like thunder after one match, with Academy Manager, John McDermott talking to him with his arm around his shoulder as he walked off the pitch. Talk around Hotspur Way was that he got frustrated quickly – whether that was frustration at his own performances, or frustration because he was better than his teammates, I’m unsure. Regardless, in May 2014, McDermott commented on his maturity and it seemed that he had really turned a corner in this respect:

“Another thing I’m pleased about is that he’s matured as a young man, not just on the football pitch, but off it. I’m really pleased with his overall development, not just his football development.”

His post-match interview yesterday was genuinely endearing – he looked so happy to have made his debut and spoke well about where he goes from here.

If you’d like more information on Josh, I recommend reading this fantastic profile from Reddit user RifleEyez.

And below are some more links which might be of interest.

Onomah song.
JOHN DELIGHTED WITH JOSH’S PROGRESS
A 9 vs 9 Under-18 match against QPR played behind closed doors from 2013 – Onomah is number 17. NB: Bentaleb scores after about 30 seconds! (EDIT: this has now been made private, apologies. I’ll leave the link here in case it returns.)
Chelsea U21s vs Tottenham Hotspur U21s – Onomah is wearing number 10.
Tottenham Hotspur U18s 2-3 Fulham 2-3 U18s, Onomah is wearing number 8 and scores after 3 minutes of the match.
Norwich City U21s 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur U21s, Onomah is wearing number 10.
Tottenham Hotspur U21s 2-1 West Ham U21s, Onomah is wearing number 10.

Some of my previous reports featuring Onomah:

25/08/12 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 3-4 Manchester United U18s, Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre
12/10/13 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 2-3 West Ham United U18s, Hotspur Way
23/11/13 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 4-2 Arsenal U18s, Hotspur Way

And some further links from RifleEyez:

Excellent bit of skill
England action vs Turkey. He’s number 8, with yellow boots.
England Under-17s vs Gibraltar, he’s number 10.
England Under-17s vs Holland. Onomah is number 8 again and scores the 2nd goal in the 74th minute.
England Under-17s vs Italy, Onomah is number 8.

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  • a36 says:

    Do you see him as a number 10 or a CM? Or stuck in between like Dembele? Has he got the pace to play further forward, or the strength to sit back?

  • Sweetsman says:

    Windy, would you take Ravel Morrison. He’s available on a free, the wage is modest, and he’s very gifted. I think it may be worth a punt as a loan player in the summer.

  • Kwame Afful Saim says:

    On the more serious note, the AFRICANS who get the opportunity of staying in europe(who are talented in any way) should be allowed to take the decision as to where he/she want to represent ie NATIONALITY wise(and that decision have to done by their parent the person in particular). It more of where he grew up, what of where his ROOT is? Anyway Onomah you are a talent, an AFRICAN and GHANAIAN to be MORE SPECIFIC. I HOPE you(Onomah) know that you are a GHANAIAN?

  • […] about what this lad is…about, but you’re best off hearing it from Spurs youth expert Windy, who did a profile on Onomah at the beginning of the year. You want more? Here’s another piece from Reddit user RifleEyez. An exciting prospect for […]

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RT @thfcacademy: Brief highlights of yesterday's UEFA Youth League draw with Real Madrid: https://t.co/WTLbLDwkPr
5 hours ago