Maradona inspires Pochettino’s Spurs

Mauricio Pochettino struggled to put his emotions into words after being reunited with Diego Maradona for the first time in 20 years ahead of Tottenham’s 4-1 win over Liverpool.

Pochettino and Maradona were teammates and roommates for a season at Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys in 1993, when the Spurs manager was a 21-year-old defender and Maradona was a World Cup winner and national legend in the troubled twilight of his career.

Maradona, who is in London for Monday’s The Best FIFA Football Awards 2017, was Pochettino’s guest for the win at Wembley on Sunday, watching the match beside Spurs chairman Daniel Levy in the executive box and appearing on the pitch at half-time, where his former Argentina teammate and Spurs legend Ossie Ardiles acted as translator.

After the win, which moved Spurs level on points with second-placed Man United, Pochettino said: “I saw him before in the manager’s room. It was so emotional. It was difficult to let him go because you are in front of Maradona, you want to speak with him, stay with him and share a moment with him.

“It was so emotional because more than 20 years I didn’t see him. To meet again, that’s fantastic. For me he’s the best player in football and he’s massive. He remembered every single moment that we shared. We played at Newell’s Old Boys.

“He’s fantastic not only on the pitch, but off the pitch. He’s a great personality, character and person and I’m so happy and I hope to see him at the FIFA awards tomorrow.”

Asked which players had met Maradona Pochettino said: “It was only Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris, we introduced him [to]. It wasn’t in the changing room. Maybe he’s come down now to meet the players [now].”

Pochettino said the win, Spurs’ second in the league at Wembley and first over a direct rival, could finally help to make the national stadium feel like home after Spurs were winless in their first three league games there.

“I am so happy, very pleased. The effort was fantastic. I want to congratulate our players after Tuesday in Madrid to be ready again to compete in a big game, in the way we started the game and played in the first 45 minutes,” added Pochettino, after Kane’s double and goals from Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli left Liverpool trailing leaders Man City by 12 points.

“I think it was very good. I am so pleased for the team, so pleased for our fans because we start to change that feeling that it was so difficult to play here at Wembley.

“We start to feel that it can be our home, Wembley, and that is so important for the rest of the season, to build that confidence.”



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