A flighty winger, who joined Spurs in a big money deal with Simon Davies from Peterborough United, but failed to make the expected progress in his position before falling out of contention and falling into conflict with the Spurs crowd.
Signed from Peterborough United for £500,000 which could have risen according to appearances and international recognition. For a long time this left footed winger had been attracting attention among the Premier League and Newcastle United were considering a £4 million bid for him at the start of 1998-1999, while Manchester United had him training with them earlier in 1999-2000. However, the persistence of David Pleat paid off and the young Cornishman joined Spurs as one for the future. A rare commodity in football these days - a natural left footer, he was seen as the long term answer to the midfield slot on that side for England.
Made his debut at 15 years and 261 days for Peterborough in the last game of the 1996-97 season (making him the seventh youngest League debutant) at Brentford and he had to ask his headmaster for permission to play as he was revising for his six GCSE's at the time. He subsequently played 58 games scoring six league goals and had represented England at Under 16 (7 caps), 18 and 20 levels and looked to have the potential to go all the way for his country. He was the youngest player to included in the PFA Division Three Team of the Season in 1998-99.
Made his Spurs debut up at Anfield as a substitute and his direct wing-play, going at defenders, livened up the Spurs fans. He had tremendous pace and skill, which was a potent weapon, but he did not get to play in the side regularly.
Picked up an injury in a pre-season game, so spent the first month of 2000-2001 on the sidelines, but got back on the bench and in Anderton's absence might have got his chance, but he did not feature regularly under Graham, being given him a couple of run-outs by Glenn Hoddle. The winger showed excellent skill and pace in the reserves, but needed to improve on his goal-scoring (especially when one-on-one with the keeper) and the accuracy of his crosses.
Season 2001-02 didn't pan out as Matthew expected. His spell on loan at Bradford City toughened him up and when he returned, he looked a better player for it. Scored his first goal for the first team against Bolton and put in some good performances, but wasn't a regular; something that nagged away at him and made him put in a transfer request. It was refused by the club and he started 2002-03 in the side, but still hinted his future might be away from the Lane.
That became a reality when he managed some games during 2002-03, but failed to impress, being muscled out of the action too easily and in the final league game at home to Blackburn Rovers, getting embroiled with the crowd in an argument, as he did not take the criticism of his crossing ability very well. It proved to be his last appearance in a Spurs shirt, as his part as a £1 million makeweight in the deal that brought Frederic Kanoute was somehow deliciously ironic in the circumstances.
Etherington made all the right noises for his new fans when he signed for the Irons, about joining a club that was bigger than Tottenham, but at Upton Park, his career followed a similar pattern to his time at White Hart Lane. Initially impressive, Etherington dropped out of contention through inconsistent performances and injuries, later suffering problems off the field with a betting addiction in 2007, that could have cost him up to £1.5 million.
Lacking the consistency once hoped for and with the Irons in financial problems, he was allowed to leave to join Stoke City in January 2009 for a fee of around £2 million, reaching a FA Cup final in 2011, but losing to Manchester City.
Matthew was released by Stoke City at the end of June 2014.