“A difficult path”: Bentaleb speaks about his rise to the Tottenham first team

The French teenager has made an impression since Tim Sherwood’s appointment, but has had to work hard to get his chance to play in the Premier League.

Nabil Bentaleb has been one of the main beneficiaries of Tim Sherwood being handed the Tottenham manager’s job on a full-time basis, with the teenager given a chance in the first team of late.

Impressive performances have rewarded his head coach’s faith, with the 19-year-old now seemingly a player that the White Hart Lane faithful will be seeing a lot more of.

However, Bentaleb has had to deal with his fair share of disappointments in his short career to date. Before signing for the Spurs youth academy in January 2012, the midfielder had been released by Lille and failed to win a place at Belgian side Mouscron or Birmingham City.

The teenager has admitted that it has been a long journey to his current situation of playing in the Premier League.

"It has been a difficult path for me to get where I am today," he told The Sun.

"I was released a few times and many clubs didn't want to open their doors for me. Lille let me go when I was 14, just at the time you start seriously dreaming of becoming a professional footballer.

"That was a very tough time for me and I had two choices: I could either give up and not right for what I wanted or try to show them they were wrong."

However, an impressive trial at Tottenham has seen Bentaleb rise through the ranks, getting his chance in the senior side after strong showings for the under-21’s.

"The trial at Tottenham was very important for me," Bentaleb said.

"I didn't want to put pressure on myself by thinking it was my last chance.

"I just wanted to impress the coaches. Fortunately, I was able to do that and it was enough to secure a move here."

Bentaleb has made appearances against Manchester United and Arsenal in his short professional career to date, and has admitted that he is still coming to terms with his rise to prominence.

"I was so happy the manager trusted me to play in such a big game at Manchester United," he said.

"I was nervous before I went on but when we finished with the three points, it was an amazing feeling.

"It was a good experience to play against Arsenal, to feel the passion and determination that you get from such an important derby."

Despite having a chance to impress, Bentaleb has stated that he will continue to work hard to improve.

"I went back home recently and my mum reminded me of where I was two years ago and pointed out that now I am training with the likes of [Emanuel] Adebayor, [Roberto] Soldado, Demeble, [Aaron] Lennon and all the guys.

"But I know I still have to work hard all the time. That is the only way to succeed."

image: © Shiraz Chakera

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