Creative Soccer Culture

In Conversation | Harry Winks Talks adidas Predator, England Debut & Spurs

Harry Winks has eclipsed any expectations he may have had at the start of 2017. With a new year ahead of him, he's taking great strides in stating his name as one of the best young players in the league. We spoke to him at the Pro:Direct Soccer adidas Predator experience in London.

Harry, from the start... What was life like growing up as a Spurs fan in the Tottenham area?

I’m from just outside Tottenham. I’m from Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, but there was a lot of Spurs fans there when I was growing up. My dad’s a big Spurs fan, as is my grandad, my whole family are Spurs fans to be honest, so it’s been with me since I can remember and we’ve always loved watching them play.

Who did you go and watch Spurs with?

If I ever got tickets to watch Spurs when I was younger I would usually go with my dad, he’d drive the two of us down. When I was younger we couldn’t get hold tickets that often, but when I became full time at Spurs my Dad and I would go whenever we had the chance.

And you were a ball boy – tell us about that?

I was a flag bearer on the pitch when we played Real Madrid at White Hart Lane in the Champions League in 2011.

How has the transition been from fan to first team player? Does some of the joy get taken away as it’s such a high pressure environment…

No, the joy always stays there for me. As a Spurs fan, when you represent the club it always gives you that extra boost when you play. I know what it’s like to be a fan, I’ve sat in the stands watching Spurs and I still feel the same attachment when I play. Nothing’s changed.

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How likely did you think it would be that you would rise through to the first team?

It’s difficult to say. The ultimate aim and ambition was to play for Tottenham’s first team, but it’s difficult as a young player in England to get the opportunity in the first team. I always believed in my own ability and fortunately I’ve got a manager who has given me the opportunity to go out and play.

We all have those players that influenced us, but which players did you grow up watching and aspire to be like?

The list is long. I think my main sporting hero who I loved watching when I was growing up was Steven Gerrard. I just admired him when I was growing up. When it comes to Spurs players it was all about Luka Modric for me, I used to love watching him play as a centre midfielder, but Ledley King was my biggest Tottenham hero.

You're here for the launch of the adidas Predator 18 today... What did the adidas Predator mean to you when you were growing up?

It was my first boot. It seemed to be the proper first boot for everyone at the time. My Dad bought them for me and I lived in them, I absolutely loved them. I’ve grown up playing in them, and I’ve grown up watching my favourite players play in them. When I was younger it was the one boot that everyone wore. You’d show everyone as soon as you got them. 


David Beckham was one of the most iconic Predator players to wear the boot. When you made your England debut, you took the number seven shirt. What went through your mind when you saw that shirt hanging up in the changing rooms?

It’s obviously a very historic number for England, but at the time I didn’t really think about it. I was just so excited to play for my country that I just got on with it. It’s only after the game you sort of reflect on those things.

You’ve gone beyond that make or break point for footballers. Some players fall way but you’re a key first team player now. How hungry are you to play every game right now?

I’m really pleased that I’ve got to this stage, to be involved regularly with the first team squad, but the hard work never stops. I’ve got so much more hard work to put in to improve as a player and to get to where I want to be. I won’t be resting on my laurels, that’s for sure.

Who are the main people that helped you through the harder times when you were trying to make it as a professional footballer?

My dad. He’s my biggest influence in football, he’s always been with me throughout the good times and the bad times. My mum and my sister have always been there for me too. John McDermott, the Academy Manager at Spurs has helped me with my progression too, and there’s loads of coaches at the club who I could list who have all collectively played a role in my success to date.

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Are you still living in Hemel or have you moved closer to central London now?

Yeah, I’m still living in Hemel. Maybe one day I’d like to move closer to the centre but at the moment it works well. It’s not too far to training and it’s good place to relax and rest.

You’re still a young player. Do you get recognised much when you’re moving around?

I do sometimes when I take the tube, but I mainly drive to training and into London. I just like my own space, and it’s more relaxing to drive to training in my own time with the music on.

How does your current car compare to your first car?

My first car was an Alpha Romeo Mito and I absolutely loved it. I’ve got a Range Rover now which is a bit bigger, but I love that too.

What sort of music do you listen to in the car then?

I like anything. Honestly, anything. I listen to Magic Radio a lot, especially at night time, it’s really relaxing.

How has the experience been of playing Champions League football for Tottenham?

I think it’s what every player wants to be doing on their Tuesday and Wednesday nights. It’s the biggest stage that everyone dreams of. To play in the Champions League for the team you support is incredible, it’s a special moment. I know some players try to shut everything out, but I love really relishing it and soaking up the atmosphere. It’s still pretty surreal when you hear the Champions League music, I’ll never get tired of listening to that. It gives me goosebumps every time.

Has your lifestyle changed off the pitch much since you’ve become a first team regular?

I’d say a little bit maybe. I get recognised a little bit but I’m no where near close to being mobbed when I try and get a coffee or anything like that!

And what’s it like for your family and friends to experience the journey you're on right now?

They tell how proud they are and that’s always nice to hear. I’m very grateful for everything they’ve done for me, so it’s something we’ve all worked hard for together over the years. The ticket requests have gone up lot recently, especially now that we’re at Wembley and we get a few more.

How have you found the Wembley experience? It must quite an incredible opportunity to play there so regularly...

Yeah it’s been great. I enjoy playing there. I don’t see how anyone can’t enjoy playing there, it’s one of the greatest stadiums in the world.

This year has been full of highs, what would you say has been the most surreal moment?

It has to be my England debut. That’s the one that really took me back, because it is the dream to play for your country when you’re child but it always seems so far away. To have that opportunity to fulfil that ambition is something I’ll always be able to say I’ve ticked off.

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Looking ahead to 2018 – have you set your sights on the World Cup?

It’s a long way a way. I can’t say I’m going to be there. I’ve only been in the squad once and there’s so many good players. I’ve got a lot of hard work to do. I remember watching the World Cup as a kid four years ago, so to be even considered for a place in the squad is incredible.

There's an incredible wealth of young English players coming through, what's it like to be a part of a movement?

Yeah there seems to be a few of us that have been given he chance this season. I’ve played a lot of international youth football with Joe Gomez and Ruben Loftus-Cheek and they’ve both also made their England debuts this year. I think I’m in a similar brace to them where’re still learning, but improving all the time.

Pick up the adidas Skystalker pack and adidas Predator 18+ from prodirectsoccer.

Photography by Joel Goldstein for SoccerBible


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