23-year-old Mason spent half a season on loan with French side FC Lorient in 2013, but he failed to make an appearance for the club.
Arriving in France as a 21-year-old who had, up to that point, spent all of his career in England, Mason has told the Standard that it was the worst time of his life, although it certainly toughened him up.
Having made a handful of appearances in the lower echelons of the Football League, as well as one senior appearance for Spurs in the UEFA Cup in 2008, Mason was expected to battle for a first-team place with Lorient during his spell there. Sent to France as a stepping stone to the Spurs senior squad, the move turned out to be a failure, as his efforts in training were not rewarded with an appearance - and it was a surprise to see the loan continue until the end of the season.
The result is that the central midfielder was actually further away from the Tottenham team than when he left, and he departed White Hart Lane again the following season to sign a season-long deal with League One side Swindon Town. That move was much more promising, as he scored five goals in 22 games, and it was the catalyst for his development into a key player for Spurs under current head coach Mauricio Pochettino.
22 appearances for the North London club this season will likely increase as the season progresses, and he has a chance to win the first silverware of his career on Sunday as Spurs take on Chelsea in the League Cup final. Many will claim that Mason would have broken into the team earlier had he not gone to Lorient on loan, instead remaining in England, but the player himself believes it was vital to toughen him up to succeed.
“I’m not going to lie,” Mason told the Standard. “It was probably the worst experience of my life. To be in a foreign country on your own and not even playing football was tough. The club put me up in an apartment about 10 minutes from the training ground. I’d finish training at 1pm every day and I’d have nothing to do.
“It was boring, it wasn’t enjoyable and it made me eager to play football with a smile on my face. I don’t ever want to be in that situation again. But I am strong in my mind, and coming through things like that means I appreciate playing for Tottenham a hell of a lot more than maybe others who haven’t been through it.”