Former Tottenham Hotspur striker Jamie Slabber has opened up about his journey from assisting on his Spurs debut to working as a painter and decorator. Slabber, who was born in Enfield, came through the youth set-up at Tottenham and finally got his chance in a Premier League match against Liverpool in March 2003. He replaced Gary Doherty in the 79th minute and assisted Teddy Sheringham to score late in the game, but Spurs lost 3-2 at White Hart Lane. Speaking to Planet Football, Slabber said he never thought he was close to getting a chance because of the other strikers in the team. However, injuries and suspensions led to then-manager Glenn Hoddle giving him a chance.
Slabber said he wasn’t nervous on the team coach, but started to get nervous when he was warming up, as he could hear the crowd and people wishing him good luck. However, when he got on the pitch, he couldn’t hear the crowd as he was so concentrated on the game. After the Liverpool match, Slabber went back to the reserves and was named as an unused sub in Hoddle’s squads for their games against Bolton and Birmingham. He was then ruled out for six to eight weeks after rolling his ankle and damaging his ligaments.
Although Hoddle promised him more opportunities in the following campaign, the Spurs head coach ended up being sacked in the summer. After that, Slabber failed to return to the first team as he was made to play with the Under-19s, before Martin Jol eventually told him his contract would not be renewed. He left in 2005 and ended up at non-league Aldershot, spending more than a decade playing in the lower divisions for the likes of Grays, Stevenage, Woking, Eastleigh, Sutton and Bromley.
Slabber eventually hung up his boots in 2018, revealing he was forced to go back to work shortly after departing Tottenham. He said that he got to an age where he needed to give up on the dream and come back to reality. He added that he had a mortgage and a young family, so he knew he wasn’t getting back into league football and had to grow up. Slabber went to college to do a painting and decorating course and an electrician’s course as well. Now he has his own business and has people working for him.
Slabber’s story is a reminder of how difficult it can be for young footballers to make it at the top level, even when they have shown promise. It also highlights the importance of having a backup plan and being prepared for life after football. Slabber’s decision to go back to college and learn new skills has paid off, and he has been able to build a successful career outside of football.