He was born at Enfield in 1991 – a decade when cricket was still highly competitive and football was welcoming new stars to rule the roost. English Football was yet to experience the rush of adrenaline of the Premier League, Liverpool were too good, Blackburn Rovers were peaking, Manchester united were waiting to showcase their talent and in Europe, AC Milan was the ultimate champions and first choice of everyone.
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 21, 2021
The little boy dreamed of becoming a footballer like any other English kid in Enfield and thus at the age of eight, he joined the Tottenham Hotspur Academy. 29 years later, the boy has been given the task to play the role of an interim coach of the club that he wished to become like Harry Kane, Gareth Bale and Heung-Min Son. Certainly, Ryan Mason has come a long way at the age of 29!
Mason made history on Wednesday, becoming the youngest manager in Premier League history while winning his debut in charge of Tottenham.
Mason, taking over Spurs on a caretaker basis after Jose Mourinho’s sacking earlier this week, saw his side come back to defeat Southampton 2-1 on Wednesday.
Having come through the academy together I know how much it will mean to @RyanMason to take charge of the team for the rest of the season. We'll give him everything we've got for these next 7 games. pic.twitter.com/zApulzZMT8
— Harry Kane (@HKane) April 21, 2021
At 29 years, 312 days old, Mason broke the previous record by nearly three years.
Mason made his first-team debut in the group stages of the UEFA Cup in 2008, coming on as an added-time substitute for David Bentley in a 1–0 away win against Dutch club NEC. During the 2008–09 season, he topped the Academy scoring sheets with 29 goals in 31 matches as Spurs finished runners-up in the Premier Academy League.
In 2009, Mason went on loan to League One club Yeovil Town, along with teammate Steven Caulker. He made his league debut in a 2–0 win against Tranmere Rovers at Huish Park. Mason made a promising start to his time at Yeovil, scoring from a free kick in his second match against Colchester United albeit in a 1–2 away defeat and from a long-range strike in their next match against Exeter City to earn an away draw. The goal against Exeter was included in BBC Sport’s Goals of the Week.
👶 Came through the Academy.
😔 Retired at 26 after head injury.
👔 Coaching at the club since 2018.
👊 Youngest manager in @PremierLeague history.
✅ Won 1st game in charge.
— SPORF (@Sporf) April 21, 2021
According to the Spurs website, “after impressing for Terry Skiverton’s men at the start of the 2009–10 season, the loan deal was extended for a further three months.”
Along with fellow Tottenham loanees, Caulker and Jonathan Obika, Mason’s loan was extended until May 2010. He was recalled prematurely, in March 2010, after playing 28-league matches and scoring six goals for Yeovil.
Mason was loaned for the first time to Championship team Doncaster Rovers on a two-month loan deal in the same year and made five appearances. In 2011, he was loaned back to Doncaster until the end of the season and made a further ten appearances. The same year, Mason signed a new two-year contract with Tottenham, keeping him at the club until June 2013. He was then immediately loaned back to Doncaster on a season-long loan.
29 – Tonight Ryan Mason (29y 312d) will become the youngest manager in Premier League history, while he will also become the youngest to manage an English top-flight game since Frank Sibley (29y 308d) for QPR vs Everton in October 1977. Opportunity. pic.twitter.com/oXaF4d2VDo
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 21, 2021
Mason was recalled back to Tottenham in November 2011 after making five appearances since the start of the season. In December 2011, Mason and teammate Harry Kane agreed on a loan deal with Championship club Millwall from January until the end of the season.
While Kane was a forward Mason concentrated on dictating terms from the midfield.
After a successful pre-season in the United States with Spurs, Mason was included in Mauricio Pochettino’s Premier League squad. In 2014, he made his first appearance of the season as well as scoring his first goal for Tottenham, an equalizer in a League Cup fixture against Nottingham Forest.
On 2 November 2014, against Aston Villa, Mason stuck his head in the chest of opponent Christian Benteke, who reacted by striking him with his hand. Referee Neil Swarbrick sent off Benteke but took no action against Mason.
the new 29 years old Tottenham interim head coach, Ryan Mason, easily resembles a main character from a Jane Austen movie pic.twitter.com/RwRMlyVZN3
— Sun Min Kimes (@sunminkimes) April 21, 2021
The incident led to both clubs being fined £20,000 by The Football Association for failing to keep their players under control.
In 2015, Mason was awarded a five-and-a-half-year contract, keeping him at the club until 2020. He started in the 2015 League Cup Final at Wembley Stadium against Chelsea where they lost.
He made his presence felt by scoring in the Premier League against Swansea City and a few months later he scored against Sunderland that earned him the Man of the Match award.
He received an injury in the 2015-16 season but did make a comeback – the cutting edge was missing.
After a disappointing 2015–16 campaign with only eight league starts, Mason was bought by Hull City on August 2016, for a fee believed to be around £13 million, a club record.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 21, 2021
On January 22 2017, in a Premier League match against Chelsea, Mason suffered a fractured skull that required surgery after a clash of heads with defender Gary Cahill.
Mason underwent a successful operation on the head injury and throughout the rest of 2017 went through a rehabilitation process in an attempt to return to play. After the operation, he had 14 metal plates in his skull, with 28 screws holding them in place. He also had 45 staples and a six-inch scar across his head.
On February 13 2018, it was confirmed that due to risks associated with the extent of Mason’s injury, he would be retiring from professional football.
Youngest manager in Premier League history ✅
Youngest manager to win a game in Premier League history ✅
— Talking THFC (@TalkingTHFC) April 21, 2021
But his passion for football never let him stay away from the game and two months later he joined the coaching staff of the Spurs.
In February 2019, he suggested that heading should be banned for children.
He was made the official academy coach for the Under-19 UEFA Youth League side in July 2019 and then the head of player development (Under-17 to Under-23) in August 2020.
And on April 19, 2021, he was appointed as the interim coach of the Spurs for the rest of the 2020-21 season.
“It’s no secret I love this club. To spend 20 years of my 29 years involved, it’s in my heart, my blood,” he said after being appointed as the interim coach.
“I’ve always felt a massive connection with the fans. I’ve always felt loved.”
“I’ll give my all to this group of players to win matches. I feel immense pride.”
"I can't tell you how proud I am."
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 21, 2021
He started off with a victory and after the match, Mason told Sky Sports, “I thought it was fantastic, so proud of the boys – So much energy, so much bravery, especially after the first 20-30 minutes as well.”
“I thought [Southampton] came out the blocks, they were very good in the first half, we found it difficult at times.”
“But the guys showed belief, they stuck to the plan and full credit to the guys because the energy, the commitment, bravery and I’ll be honest: I thought there was only one team that was going to win it.”
The comeback win meant Mason has equalled Mourinho’s total of Premier League matches won when the team trailed at half-time (W1 D2 L11).
With the victory over Southampton, Tottenham moved to within two points of Chelsea, who occupy the fourth and final Champions League place in the table.
But on Wednesday, that boy from Enfield, who dreamed of achieving something big through playing football, certainly, thought that after the tragic end to his career, his passion for the game has rewarded him with something big – Mason has the strong mentality to move on and work harder to improve. The 29-year-old can be an asset to football.