By Harry Sykes
Defender Anton Walkes has revealed that quitting Tottenham in January has turned out to be the best decision of his career.
The 20-year-old only had 10 minutes of first-team football to show for his time at Spurs before crossing the Atlantic in January, where he has made a major impact while on loan at MLS club Atlanta United.
Walkes has won over manager Tito Martina, a countryman and friend of Spurs boss Mauricio Pochetino, to become the team’s regular right-back.
His initial short loan spell has been extended to run until 31 December in a clear vindication of his decision to swap the Spurs Under-23s for senior football in a competitive league.
“I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made so far,” Walkes, whose initial loan deal has been extended for the remainder of the year, told PA Sport, as quoted by ESPN FC. “I’ve enjoyed every single moment, I’ve learned so much, so I am looking forward to the next stages.
“My expectations were high and what it has proved is just that it’s raised the bar even higher than I expected.”
MLS newboys Atlanta share a new state-of-the-art stadium with NFL club Atlanta Falcons and Walkes will play in the historic venue for the first time this weekend.
“It has been a great experience, you’re learning so much,” Walkes said to PA Sport. “You have to mature on and off the pitch, so it’s a lot of adapting.
“There’s a lot more pressure, there’s no time for mistakes. In youth-team football, you’re allowed mistakes here and there because the coaches always encourage you and say you’ve got time to improve.
“But in these games, you’re playing for points and it’s business. The eyes are on you at all times, so there’s no hiding.”
Walkes, who can play in defence or midfield, made only one appearance for the Spurs first team after graduating from the club’s academy but played 38 matches for their Under-23s.
In other Tottenham news, the club have been hit by a devastating blow as a key first-teamer has been sidelined until next year.