Ex-Spurs Keeper Loving Non-League Life

Former Tottenham goalkeeper Kacper Kurylowicz is rebuilding his career in non-league football following his release from the Premier League club 18 months ago.

After 11 years at Spurs, Kacper was informed that he did not have a future with the English football giants. It is the news that hundreds of talented youngsters receive each summer, causing many to fall out of love with the sport altogether.

Kacper was not only determined but he was excited by the prospect of getting out and playing first-team football, no matter what level that may be.

Diving Around on Concrete

Many kids’ favourite part of school is playing football with their mates at lunchtime and Kacper was no different. The 22-year-old says that this is where his love for goalkeeping was discovered, as he volunteered himself to play in goal, just so he could play with a “normal football”.

“I played at my school during lunch breaks,” Kacper told Fen Regis Trophies. “At my school, Year Fives couldn’t have normal footballs…we had to play with foam footballs, while the Year Sixes had a normal football.

“I wanted to play with a normal football, so I asked if I could play in goal. I was diving around on concrete, and I loved it

“I loved every moment of it. Diving around on grass, diving around on concrete…anywhere. I loved every moment of it!”

Earning His Spurs

Kacper’s first club was Roman Rangers in his hometown of Luton. He enjoyed plenty of success playing under grassroots coach Tony Rawles, who the goalkeeper credits with laying the groundwork for his career.

He said: “A lot of my career I owe to him (Tony) through the way he treated me and looked after me.”

It was under the guidance of Tony that Kacper would earn his first big break, impressing an onlooking scout playing in a tournament at Milton Keynes Dons’ Stadium: MK. This kickstarted a chain of events that eventually led him to one of the country’s biggest clubs, Tottenham Hotspur.

“During the summer, we would play tournaments and I would think ‘it’s a tournament, let’s go and have some fun’.

“We won a lot of tournaments; we had a really good Under-9s team. We won quite a bit.

“We played at the MK Dons stadium once for a final, which was great, and then a Northampton scout came over and asked if I wanted to come and have a training session, and I said of course.

“I went down to train at Northampton’s Leicester development centre and did well and, by luck, the goalie coach at the development centre’s son played for Spurs.

“I spoke to a coach called Alex Welsh at Tottenham and it worked, I went in there and it worked.”

Kacper in goal for Potters Bar Town during a local derby against Enfield Town. (Picture: Potters Bar Town)

Learning from the Best

During his 11 years at Tottenham, Kacper was fortunate to not only learn from some of the best coaches but also rub shoulders with some of the best goalkeepers in the game, such as France’s World Cup-winning captain Hugo Lloris and former England number one Joe Hart.

As you would expect, competition for places is fierce at a Premier League club. That meant Kacper’s chances of breaking into the first team were limited. Though he made several squads, he did not make a senior appearance for Spurs.

Eager to experience first-team football, Kacper pushed for a loan move away from the club. In February 2022, Kacper joined Potters Bar Town for the second half of the season and loved every minute of it.

“Joe Hart told me to play games,” Kacper said. “Play as many games as you possibly can. Forget where you play, just play and make a name for yourself.

“It was very much an eye-opener for me. These guys are working a nine-to-five job, they’re bricklayers, labourers, or they’ve got office jobs – they’re travelling two-and-a-half hours from work to play a game of football.

“For us [at Spurs], if we had a game, you would have the whole day to prepare with pre-match meals and this and that. It was an eye-opener.

“You realise how lucky you are; this is the reality of football for many people.”

On the difference between playing academy and non-league football, Kacper said: “In academy football, if there is a corner you do not have to worry, but in non-league someone is elbowing you in the chest and grabbing your arm.

“I’m thinking ‘what’s going on here? This isn’t what I’m used to!’

“It’s a much more physical game. You’re getting hit. It is a much more contact sport than in an academy, where you are sheltered from it.

“You’re not shown the reality of how physical the game is.”

“I Knew it Was Coming to an End”

Soon after returning to Spurs from his Potters Bar loan spell, Kacper was informed he would be released at the end of the season. The news did not come as a surprise to the goalkeeper, who admits there was “nothing there for me anymore” at the club.

“You have that feeling and you know that it’s time,” Kacper said of his release. “I was turning 21 and there was nothing there for me anymore.

“The only thing I had there was the title of Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper. Life-wise, it’s incredible, but career-wise it was nothing for me anymore.

“I knew it was coming to an end.”

Kacper enjoying a hearty post-match meal at Daventry Town (Picture: x.com/@KacperKurylowi4)

Non-League Lifeline

In the summer of 2022, Kacper had to regroup and set himself the target of working his way back up to the top. With the likes of Jamie Vardy, Che Adams, and Jarrod Bowen demonstrating in recent years that it is possible to reach the elite level of the game from non-league, the former Polish youth international has plenty of cause for optimism.

Despite initial setbacks, Kacper found joy when he began training with his friend’s club before signing for side Yaxley, who were competing in the Northern Premier Division One Midlands (Step Four) in the 2022/23 season.

“After Tottenham, I went to Brentford, West Ham, and Blackpool on trials and, for one reason or another, it just didn’t work out.

“I was wondering what to do with myself now. One of my mates called me and asked me to come and train with him at his non-league side, Buckingham Athletic.

“I went there and on a Tuesday and did the warm-up on a matchday and that’s how I got the call to go to Yaxley.

“I had a conversation with the gaffer who said they needed a goalie as they had an experienced goalkeeper who had to leave due to work commitments.

“They needed a keeper, and I thought I would go and play a couple of games as it wasn’t going to hurt me. I ended up finishing the season as captain.”

This summer, Kacper joined Step Five club Daventry Town, who play in the United Counties League Premier Division South having suffered relegation last season. He is also dual-registered with Step Three side St Ives Town of the Southern League Premier Division Central.

While his ultimate goal is to work his way back up to the professional game, Kacper is more than happy playing for the love of the game, enjoying football in its purest form.

By Aaron Gratton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Visit our online shop