Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nabil Bentaleb has told L'Equipe that his rejection by Lille motivated him to make it at the highest level of the game.
• Crace: Spurs' Bentaleb dilemma
Bentaleb, 19, was born in the Wazemmes neighbourhood of Lille and joined his local club as a youngster -- only to be told he was being released when he was 14.
Spells at Belgian club Mouscron and fourth-tier French amateur outfit Dunkerque, as well as a period spent playing futsal in Lille, followed before Birmingham City took him on trial in 2011.
That led to then Spurs boss Harry Redknapp taking Bentaleb to White Hart Lane in January 2012 and, having bided his time in the club's junior sides, the French midfielder was promoted to the first team by Tim Sherwood after he replaced Andre Villas-Boas last month.
"I've gone through some tough times to get where I am today,” Bentaleb said. “A lot of clubs closed their doors to me. Lille didn't keep me on when I was 14.
"At that age, you start to seriously dream about becoming a professional footballer. That was a difficult period. I had two options: give up, or show them they were wrong."
He explained that Sherwood had been "my coach with the youth team -- he knows me very well and I know what he expects from players."
Bentaleb has featured in six of Spurs' last seven matches and his displays have alerted the Algerian FA, who are hoping to tempt the teenager -- whose father is Algerian – to represent them with the promise of a squad place at the World Cup.
But he stressed: "I want to focus more on my club. That's the most important thing right now."