A global Tottenham Hotspur podcast and viewpoint, by the fans for the fans.
How difficult was it for Erik Lamela to move to a new country. Aaron explores this, drawing from his own experience.
by Aaron Wolfe
When I was 10 my family moved from New York City to Teaneck, New Jersey. For my parents it was a move full of hope and excitement. For me it was a total uprooting of my universe. I didn’t care that I went to school in Spanish Harlem where my early memories are of the Housing Police Station being held hostage for a few hours. And I didn’t care that my friends were mostly bullies that wouldn’t give me candy because they said it was “boner pills” and that my “dick was too limp to have a tic tac.” My friends were assholes but they were my friends.
Life in New York had been hard. My parents’ car, a 70s Datsun, was constantly getting stolen and when it wasn’t stolen it would just be picked up and turned around in its parking space. And my school… well I already mentioned the hostage situation, but there was also the homeless people in the schoolyard, the broken glass in the playground, the friends that terrorized me, and the horrible fact that my father was ONE OF THE TEACHERS!!!
But despite all that the suburbs had to offer — green lawns, glass free playgrounds, a lack of general friend-based psychological warfare — I hated the idea that we were moving. I was comfortable in New York. I liked going to sleep with the sounds of screaming from across the street. I liked the long hallway that I was convinced was filled with monsters. And I liked the fact that once on my way to school I saw a man standing in the crosswalk bleeding from the head like a zombie victim. It was fun. Trust me. It was fun.
On my first day at Hawthorne Elementary School I immediately knew that everything was different. First of all, there were water fountains. Actual clean water sprouting from the ground into little receptacles for me to drink from! But there were also girls that wore makeup! People that owned cars that weren’t glorified tricycles! Boys that had haircuts — like real haircuts that they got at stores with fancy names like “HairPower East” and “ElektroCUTZ.”
But the biggest difference was that when I sat down in my first classroom it was quiet. People chatted, there was some murmuring, but there wasn’t full blown chaos punctuated by the sound of howling feral youth. I sat near the back with my brand new TrapperKeeper and pencil case, full of wonder and shock that there was literally no one sobbing already. It was disorienting and terrifying… what was going on? When would the terror start? Was everyone looking at me? Were they not killing each other because they were just planning my demise???
“White Hart Lane is 1100 miles away from the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. That’s roughly 200x as far as I travelled for my life to be turned on its head.”
And then there was a tap on my shoulder. And so I did what I knew I had to do, what anyone that has ever lived through what I had lived through would do, the ONLY logical thing to do when one moves from the city to the suburbs — I turned around took one look at the kid tapping me and punched him in the face. Then, convinced I had properly illustrated my dominance in the jungle of 4th graders, I turned back around and opened my TrapperKeeper.
It is worth noting that Hawthorne Elementary school is exactly 6.6 miles away from the school I went to in New York. And yet it was a world away.
Imagine, then, being 18 years old in Argentina a place you’ve always called home. A place where you once scored 120 goals in a single season. A place where you lived when you rejected an offer to follow Sir Messi and join the living gods at La Masia. Imagine packing your bags and leaving all of that to travel 7,000 miles to Rome. Where you don’t speak the language. Where you have no friends. And then imagine doing it again.
White Hart Lane is 1100 miles away from the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. That’s roughly 200x as far as I travelled for my life to be turned on its head. I moved 6.6 miles and couldn’t figure out how to say “hello” to a sweet little nerd who spoke the same language as me. Imagine for a moment that, in addition to all that, I was the subject of a record signing, all the expectations of a rabid and completely unforgiving fanbase, while also being asked to kick a ball into a net that was guarded by the meanest, strongest, and strangest people I had ever met in my life.
We demand so much of our stars. “Oh piss off, you’re getting paid millions to do a simple job just buck up and get to work!” “Stop being a girl!” “Player X didn’t need a year to bed in!” “Player Z netted fifty goals on his first season, sired fourteen children, AND single-handedly defeated the Nazi war machine!”
We demand so much but forget that there’s a human being behind that bad haircut and our beloved badge. We demand so much and so we also write off so quickly. We demand so much but then ignore how spectacular the player actually is becoming.
In this, essentially his first real season, Erik Lamela’s stats are some of the best of the team. He leads the team with assists (7) and most successful dribbles per game. He is ranked second for most key passes (passes that lead to scoring opportunities), second for fouls won, second for crosses per game (a damning stat for those that say he’s only good for finding cul de sacs), and has the most tackles per game of all our “attacking” midfielders (only Ryan Mason beats him in the category).
And as for the knocks against him: that he’s constantly dispossessed or that he has poor control. Well he ranks BEHIND Kane and is tied for Dispossessed Per Game with Eriksen and behind Kane again for Poor Controls Per Game. According to whoscored.com he has also been Man of the Match 4 times this season. Four times! Kane and Eriksen have been MOTM one time more than him.
I know, I know, you can’t see the game through numbers and it’s what’s on the pitch that matters. Okay, so here’s what I see with my admittedly astigmatic eyes: he’s constantly showing for the ball, constantly tracking back, constantly sticking a toe in to continue a faltering move, and constantly being a nuisance on the ball dragging defenders over to the right side of the pitch.
Is it a shock that Danny Rose is having the year of his life? All our attacking play seems to start on the right side of the pitch. Pulling defenders to the right narrowing the pitch and creating oceans of space for Rose to run onto. I want to tear my hair out and jump up and down every time the pundits say: “I don’t know, I think Spurs just look too narrow, in my book they should play with real wingers, Aaron Lennon now he was a real winger…”
Lamela has been a revelation this season. In a season with ups and downs for almost all our players he’s consistently improved and is closing out a fairly boring end of the season with his best performances in lilywhite.
This summer players will go, players will come in. But I, for one, will be keeping an eye on one player at the start of the next season: our Argentine wonder little Erik Lamela.
AND NOW AARON’S TOTALLY RANDOM SCORING SYSTEM FOR OUR ENTIRE SEASON:
On a scale of football haircuts with Chamakh being lowest and Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s fro being best, I’d say this season has been a strong Vertonghen. Not great, pretty standard, a little wavy with ups and downs, but also surprisingly supple. It’s been the kind of haircut that you think “alright, I’ll probably change it up this summer but it’s pretty good for this job interview I have coming up and I don’t know, it got me this far why change too much now?”
AND NOW AARON’S PREDICTIONS FOR THE OFF SEASON:
I will bore my wife to death with obsessive reading about the transfer market. I will bore myself to death watching baseball. I will bore my two year old to death trying to teach him to kick a ball instead of throw it. And I will read too many books about football for my own good.
What else could I possibly do?
About the author:
Aaron Wolfe is a screenwriter, storyteller, film editor, occasional podcaster, and proud dad from Brooklyn, NY