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Once compared to Messi, Sporting’s Marcus Edwards ready for Spurs reunion

LONDON (AFP) – Once hailed as the future of Tottenham, Marcus Edwards will have the chance to show why he was touted as the next Lionel Messi when the Sporting Lisbon forward faces his old club in the Champions League tonight.

Edwards burst onto the Champions League stage with a dazzling display in Sporting’s 3-0 win against Eintracht Frankfurt last week.

The 23-year-old English winger marked his maiden Champions League start with his first goal in the competition, also providing an assist to remind Tottenham of the talent that briefly led him to be the Premier League club’s brightest young star.

Edwards’ career has taken a long and winding road since his teenage years, but he is relishing the chance to face Tottenham when Antonio Conte’s side visit Lisbon for this

Born in the north London suburb of Enfield, Edwards dreamt of playing for Tottenham just a few miles down the road from his home.

Sporting Lisbon’s midfielder Hidemasa Morita, forward Marcus Edwards and defender Ricardo Esgaio attend a training session. PHOTO: AFP

That ambition was fulfilled when Edwards joined the club’s youth academy and made his debut as a substitute in a League Cup tie against Gillingham in 2016.

Edwards’ flamboyant style of play was inspired by hours spent gazing in awe at YouTube clips of Neymar and videos of Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldinho supplied by his father.

Edwards’ quick feet and skill impressed then Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino so much that the Argentine compared the teenager with Barcelona superstar Messi.

“His qualities, it’s only looks, his body and the way that he plays, remember a little bit from the beginning of Messi,” Pochettino said.

Yet Edwards, hampered by a serious ankle injury that required surgery, struggled to live up to Pochettino’s hyperbole.

He was loaned to second-tier Norwich in January 2018, but made just one appearance before returning to Tottenham for “personal reasons”.

Edwards also spent time on loan with Dutch side Excelsior before his Tottenham dream came to an abrupt end amid concerns over his work ethic and fears Pochettino’s praise had gone to his head.

Leaving Tottenham without making a single Premier League appearance, he made what proved a transformative move to Portuguese club Vitoria Guimaraes in 2019.

“There was a period where I was really close to getting into the team and then I ended up getting injured. I was out for like six or seven months, but that happens,” he said.

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