Australia battles England for rookie keeper Glover

Tom Glover was voted best goalkeeper at last month's Eurofoot U-19 tournament in Belgium

Tottenham Hotspur's rookie goalkeeper Tom Glover is at the centre of joust between England and Australia for his international allegiance.

Touted as this country's most promising gloveman since the two Marks - Bosnich and Schwarzer - blazed a trail in Europe, the shot shopper from the southern Sydney suburb of Bangor is already appearing regularly between the sticks for Tottenham's U-21 side - at the age of just 16.

And he will go into camp with England’s U-18s in December despite a belated bid from Australia to steer him towards the green and gold.

"England have invited me to train and I have accepted their offer,” said Glover, whose representative David Magrone was Tottenham's head of opposition scouting under the brief reign of Tim Sherwood.

"They have been tracking me for a while and have been interested in seeing how I am progressing, and are keen to give me a chance.

"My dad is English, so there's a connection there - even though I was born and grew up in Australia."

The former Sutherland Sharks junior signed a two-year contract with Tottenham's Academy in June after winning the personal endorsement of White Hart Lane's legendary keeper turned coach Pat Jennings, who was won over by the potential of 196cm Glover when he trialled at the club at the age of just 14.

The teenager often trains with Tottenham's frontline keepers - Hugo Lloris, Michael Vorm and Brad Friedel - and was contacted this month by Australia's goalkeeping coach Tony Franken in a bid to head off England's interest.

Glover is surprised it took so long for the Australian scouting network to identify him as a prospect, admitting: "I'm not sure if they had heard about me or not, so when England made contact it was not a hard decision make.

"I'd never heard anything from Australia until a few of weeks back when (Socceroos goalkeeping coach) Tony Franken came down to watch me train at Spurs and he wants me to become involved in the Joeys set up.

"To be honest, he seemed a bit shell-shocked by the progress I had made there and didn't know too much about me at all.

"Obviously, being Australian you always want to play for your country but for now I am also keen to accept England's approach and spend some time with their youth team."

Glover was recommended to Spurs by both Magrone and Sutherland Sharks academy head coach John Klappas.

"A couple of staff were not sure on Tom when he first came to Spurs," said Magrone. "I could see the potential and thankfully so did goalkeeping coach Perry Sucking. Together we were instrumental in giving the boy his break, but he has taken it and now everyone is convinced."

Though Glover's identity may have been shrouded in mystery for some, Australia legend Schwarzer knew enough about him to take him aside and wish him well during a Socceroos training session in Sydney last year and current Socceroos No.1 Mat Ryan has also taken him under his wing.

It's understood FFA is currently moving to shore up its scouting networks in a bid to identity and tie down the best of a legion of dual nationality Australian youngsters sprinkled across Europe before they pledge their loyalties elsewhere.

Under FIFA rules, Glover can play for both England and Australia without being bound to either until he makes a full international appearance at senior level in a FIFA-sanctioned tournament.

"I guess I don't need to rush into a decision now," he added. "I am young and have time on my side."

He feels comfortable playing for Tottenham's U-21s and has been likened by Suckling to Chelsea's imposing young goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

"I feel I have made massive progress in every aspect of my game since coming to Tottenham," he said.

"Pat Jennings comes in once a week and holds sessions … I saw clips of him catching the ball one-handed on YouTube and he's been brilliant with me. He's a legend.

"I train with first team from time to time also and it's another level…something to aspire to.

"The likes of Hugo Loris, Michel Vorm and Brad Friedel ... they are so sharp and switched on. I try and play like Mat Ryan, a bit of a sweeper keeper.

"I actually get a bit frusrtaed playing with the Under-18s and find the Under-21s a lot more challenging."

Tottenham has floated the idea of sending Glover on loan to gain experience in a more physically imposing environment.

"It would be good to get some experience of playing against men, where you get that physical edge to your game, but I am not sure if that will happen,” said Glover who is competing with Luke McGee, three years his senior, for a starting spot in the U-21s.

"I would love to make a future for myself at Spurs - it's a huge club and being here is special for me."

He underlined his potential by being voted Goalkeeper of the Tournament at last month's Eurofoot U-19 Competition in Belgium as a young Tottenham side finished fourth.
 

Source SBS