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SSFC Spotlight: Samuel Shashoua on the rise at CD Tenerife

The former England youth international is turning heads in Spain.

Derby County Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League 2 Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Recruiting dual-national players is an increasingly important job requirement for any international manager or technical director, providing an increase to the quality of the talent pool. The partnership of Gregg Berhalter, Brian McBride, and Earnie Stewart has pursued and welcomed these additions, with some already making an impact in meaningful matches. One potential future option is Samuel Shashoua of CD Tenerife, whose American connection was first publicized by the famously dedicated sleuths on the BigSoccer Yanks Abroad forum. After dealing with injury issues, the usual adjustment struggles of the professional game, and some bad luck, the 22-year-old attacking midfielder is in the midst of a breakout year in the Segunda División and offering a glimpse of dormant greater potential.

Shashoua was born in London, competing for the Harrow School before joining the Tottenham academy in 2015. He was a productive player for the club’s U-18 and U-23 sides, debuting for the reserve team in 2016 at the age of 16. Frequently cited for his technical ability, the academy prospect even made the bench for a Premier League match against Leicester in 2017. However, despite his skillful dribbling and bevy of online highlight reels being passed by the fan base, his first-team debut never came.

In August of 2018, Tottenham sent him on loan to CD Atlético Baleares of the third-tier Segunda División B. “As soon as [the club] called me, I didn’t think twice,” he revealed after signing. “I always wanted to play in Spain and I hope not to disappoint. I can score, I like to defend, and I can play on both sides.”

Impressing teammates with his dedication in training, he made 38 appearances in his first professional season and led the Balearicos to the cusp of promotion. The amount of matches was “physically and mentally intense,” providing an important challenge in his young career. While reportedly being monitored by Atlético Madrid, his performances attracted the transfer interest of Tenerife, who signed him to a three-year contract.

Suffering from a long-term back injury, Shashoua’s tenure with his new club began slowly. Unable to make any appearances, the focus was on rehabilitation. For the second half of the season, Tenerife sent him out on loan, once again to Atlético Baleares, where he was joined by his brother, Armando, on a temporary spell from Tottenham. His season debut came in the beginning of March, which turned out to be the final fixture before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of most professional leagues. Once the season resumed, the young attacker featured in both promotion playoff matches, coming close to securing a spot in the second tier for the second consecutive year.

In his first full season at Tenerife, playing alongside U.S. senior international Shaq Moore, Shashoua began as a substitute before fully ramping up to a rotational part of the lineup. By April, he was fully entrenched in the starting lineup and considered “a talisman” for the manager. Stats Bomb listed his status as one of the best dribblers in the league. His performances garnered the club’s most valuable player award, decided by the fans.

“[I] am very happy and grateful to the fans for voting for me,” he shared. “After a very irregular year in which I was barely able to participate, I wanted to have a season in which I could play everything and give my best. I have succeeded and now I want to improve for the next campaign.”

With reported financial issues due to “the fall in income from ticket sales in addition to falling in television rights,” Shashoua was viewed as a player who could be sold. One La Liga side was said to be interested. However, a move never happened, and Tenerife gave him the number 10, which fulfilled a childhood dream.

After a slow start to the season, he has four goals and one assist in the last five matches, proving his value as a starter and once again being described as “a talisman” due to his scoring correlating with victories. Tenerife is currently at fourth in the table, a mere two points out of first place and automatic promotion. The manager backed Shashoua to eventually play in the top division, a testament to his talent and constant improvement. In recognition of this long-term trajectory, the club extended his contract for another year, lasting through the summer of 2023.

“I did not know if I would have the confidence of the club, so winning this renewal makes me feel proud of the work that I am developing,” he said after the announcement. “I thank [sporting director] Juan Carlos Cordero who gave me the opportunity to return after my assignment to Atlético Baleares two season ago. Now I am very happen to continue at this great club until 2023… If I am good and the team doesn’t win, it is useless. This season I am happy because we are achieving great results against Second Division teams, but we have to continue like this for a longer time… It has helped me a lot that [the manager] continued at Tenerife. If you have a new coach every six months, it is more difficult to get ideas and develop a stable game model.”

At the international level, Shashoua made several appearances for the England U-17 and U-18 teams, playing in three matches at the 2016 European Under-17 Championship. In addition to the Three Lions, he is also eligible for Spain and Venezuela. His father was born in the United States and attended Syracuse University, likely making the young midfielder eligible for an eventual switch. According to his agency, ICM Stellar Soccer, the player is “in the process of renewing his US passport.” His 20-year-old brother Armando is currently on a permanent deal at Baleares after departing the Tottenham youth and reserve sides.

Primarily an attacking midfielder with Tenerife, the 5’7” Shashoua can also play at both winger roles and striker. Considered a “gifted playmaker,” his strength is beating defenders off the dribble, displaying a daring nature. Marca described him as “cheeky, vertical, and doesn’t care about the defender in front of him.” El Dorsal notes his ability to “outrun opponents [with the ball].” His work rate is also high, constantly winning back possession with crunching tackles.

“Being daring is part of my game,” he shared in January. “In my position it is useless to play backwards and play simple. I always want to assist or score goals, dribble, and show what I have. Now I score goals with my left foot. What I want is to help the team. I don’t care how.”

Shashoua is still in the beginning stages of his career, having left the meat grinder of the Premier League, overcome a serious injury, and dealt with the disruption of a pandemic. While probably not in line for an immediate national team call-up, pedigree and potential indicate that his trajectory is pointed firmly in an upward direction. The 22-year-old is a player to watch, perhaps a dual-national target in the next few years.