The remarkable rise of Ryan Mason

21 April 2021 04:00

When Ryan Mason leads Tottenham out against Southampton on Wednesday evening, he will become the youngest manager in Premier League history.

That in itself is noteworthy, even in the current news climate. However, delve a little deeper into Mason's past and it soon becomes clear that this is a truly remarkable story. Born in Enfield, a mere half-hour's drive away from White Hart Lane, Mason joined the Spurs academy aged just eight.

Mason in his playing days | BEN STANSALL/Getty Images

He progressed up the ranks steadily, enjoying a cameo UEFA Cup appearance against NEC Nijmegen in 2008. A string of lower-league loan moves followed at the likes of Yeovil Town, Doncaster Rovers and Millwall, while he also had a stint with French club Lorient.

His big break came at the beginning of the 2014/2015 season when he caught the eye of incoming Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino. Waspish, committed and tireless, while also possessing a neat technique, it is no surprise that Pochettino was so taken by the midfielder. He ended up featuring 31 times in the Premier League that season, scoring once and chipping in with four assists.

The following campaign had its moments too, although he would largely be sidelined following the arrival of Dele Alli from MK Dons. With first-team opportunities at a premium, Mason would end his 17-year association with his boyhood club by moving to Hull City. The move seemed like a good one for both parties, with the Tigers parting with a club-record fee to secure the young talent's services.

However, several months later things would turn nightmarish in a game against Chelsea. After clashing heads with Gary Cahill, Mason suffered a fractured skull. 13 months later the injury forced him to retire.

For other less determined players, this adversity would have taken some time to get over. Not Mason, though. Less than two months after announcing his retirement, he joined Spurs' coaching team. Since then, he has been on quite the upward trajectory, progressing from Under-19s boss to head of player development, while also assisting with the first team.

Speaking to the The Athletic back in August, Chris Ramsey, who helped bring Mason through the ranks, eerily predicted: "Don’t be surprised if he ends up being a first-team coach somewhere - he’s a genuine scholar of the game. Could he be a manager? Why not? I think he’s more of a coach but who’s to say?"

Mason and Powell will be in the dugout for the rest of the season | Julian Finney/Getty Images

As it turns out Ramsey's prediction has come to pass sooner than he might have imagined, with Mason handed the reigns until the end of the season following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho on Monday. The fact that he was given the manager's job over fellow coach Chris Powell is telling of how highly he is rated at the club.

Although he has never landed a permanent job in the Premier League, Powell is an experienced manager, enjoying a successful spell at Charlton Athletic as well as mixed stints at Huddersfield Town and Southend.

Mason getting the nod over this safe pair of hands may hint to something more. If Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can land top jobs with such limited experience, what's to stop him stepping into the hot seat permanently if he proves his worth in north London?

With Spurs' top choices for the job, Julian Nagelsmann, Brendan Rodgers and Max Allegri seemingly out of reach, the cheaper option of Mason who 'understands the Spurs DNA' may appeal to Levy - especially with the Super League money disappearing in a puff of official club statements.

A win over Southampton - a team managed by a man on Spurs' long list of managerial candidates - would be a great start in proving his credentials. Leading his boyhood club to their first piece of silverware since 2008 would be even better.

Source: 90min