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Asmir Begovic has admitted he had two chances to join Tottenham Hotspur, one during his teen years and another a few years later.
Begovic, who first got his chance at Portsmouth, has enjoyed a long and storied Premier League career.
The goalkeeper only made a handful of appearances for Pompey but he established himself as one of the best shot-stoppers in the league soon after his move to Stoke City in 2010.
The Bosnian played 172 times for the Potters before moving to Chelsea in 2015, and after a couple of seasons at Stamford Bridge, he was snapped up by Bournemouth, for whom he made over 100 appearances across the Premier League and the Championship.
The experienced goalkeeper signed for Everton last summer and went on to make seven appearances for the Toffees across the 2021/22 campaign.
Begovic has now revealed that Portsmouth prevented him from having a trial at Tottenham as a youngster.
He told talkSPORT: “About 20 years ago when I first came to England when I was 16, I had two trials lined up, Portsmouth and Spurs, two weeks at each.
“I walked into Portsmouth and I had a really unbelievable two days of training and played a little friendly and the academy director pulled me in and said ‘Look I want to sign you, two-year academy, two-year pro, but under one condition’.
“I said ‘What’s that condition?’ and he said, ‘You can’t go to Spurs’ so I was like, ‘Sure, done deal whatever,’ it was my dream to come to England so that was pretty easy. ‘We’ll pull the offer if you go to Spurs on trial’
“Basically, I had another 10 days at Portsmouth and then I was supposed to go to Spurs. It was easy. I was 16 and it was my dream to come to England, it was a no-brainer.”
Begovic went on to reveal that Harry Redknapp wanted to sign him for Spurs alongside the deal to bring Younes Kaboul back to the club from Fratton Park in 2010, but the goalkeeper admitted he thought a move to Stoke City would be better for his development.
He added: “That was the time Pompey were in trouble. They had just got into the Premier League, I was playing a few games, really enjoying it, loving the experience.
“But they were in financial trouble so any assets in January would have to be sold, so I knew there was a chance I would have to go that window.
“I had a call two or three days before the end of the window and my agent said there’s a deal for you and Younes Kaboul to go to Spurs.
“I travelled up to London, had a medical all day, it was literally a 10-hour thing, I walked out later and had so many missed calls from my agent so I met him in the evening and he said Stoke have come in for you, Tony Pulis wants to speak to you.
“I ended up speaking to them, I went home that night just to think about everything and Spurs thought I was in the hotel so in the morning they were thinking I was going to sign.
“So I went home just to think about it, to talk to my girlfriend that I wanted to go to Stoke, but Pompey kept pressing me to go to Spurs saying ‘no we’ve done the deal’ it was paying off some debt.
“I just thought it was the better place for my development to play. [Spurs manager] Harry Redknapp was great, he said, ‘[Heurelho] Gomes is going in the summer, you’ll play’ but I just thought Stoke was a better path for me.”
Spurs Web Opinion
One could argue that Begavic did not fulfil his potential as he was a top-quality goalkeeper from around 2010 to 2015. However, it probably worked out well for Spurs as we might have not signed Hugo in 2012 had Begovic arrived two years prior and made the number one shirt his own.
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