‘To infinity and beyond’ – Spurs boss Pochettino always dreaming big
Tottenham take on Ajax in the Champions League semi-finals having raced ahead of expectations since their manager took charge five years ago.
Mauricio Pochettino is “living his dream” by taking Tottenham to the Champions League semi-final, but is still thinking even bigger.
Spurs host Ajax in Tuesday’s first leg having reached the last four of this competition for the first time in the Champions League era.
It has been an unexpected journey for them this season after getting past Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City in the knockout rounds, and far ahead of Pochettino’s brief when he took the job five years ago.
The Argentinian was only expected to get the club challenging to be in the top four by the time they moved into their new stadium, but now they are one tie away from a Champions League final.
“I am living my dream, I am already living it – to be in the semi-final with Tottenham,” Pochettino said.
“It was a dream five years ago and we are living it.
“Always you must dream with the moon, if you want to get something from the sky. You need to set your dreams to infinity and beyond.
“When you are ambitious and want to achieve big things you need to dream. I was always a dreamer.
“When I was very young I dreamed in my hometown in Murphy (in Santa Fe) one day to be a football player and I achieved it.
“It was tough to achieve all that I dreamed but I believe there is power in your mind when you are determined to achieve.
“If you achieve things it is because you dream, when you dream you have it in your mind and then you can get it.”
Pochettino gave a candid insight into his first meeting with Daniel Levy, when his initial brief was set out, though it is one the chairman may not be too happy has been made public.
“My first meeting was in his house and he was without shoes, like in his pyjamas but it was in the afternoon,” the Argentinian said.
A packed fixture schedule and injuries have dogged Tottenham’s build-up.
Key attacking players Harry Kane and Son Heung-min are missing through injury and suspension respectively while Harry Winks is another key miss in midfield.
Pochettino accepted his side struggled with “stress and fatigue” in the 1-0 defeat to West Ham on Saturday, but insists the occasion of a Champions League semi-final can carry his side through.
It’s a game where it’s impossible to tire, it’s impossible not to be excited to play. It’s all mental
It’s a game where it’s impossible to tire, it's impossible not to be excited to play. It’s all mental. Mauricio Pochettino on the Champions League semi-final
“It must be important. The energy, the semi-final, the chance to play a semi-final for Tottenham does not happen often,” he added.
“We are in circumstances that are impossible to change and we must be ready.
“It’s a game where it’s impossible to tire, it’s impossible not to be excited to play. It’s all mental.
“The energy is going to be there, no doubt we are going to have the energy to play 90 minutes and give our best.
“But then it’s football and we need to accept that football is a sport that you must be focused and be better than the opponent and show more quality if you’re going to win.”
Lucas Moura will be the man Spurs look to in Kane and Son’s absence on Tuesday and he also faced the media.
The most memorable part of his press conference was when he potentially let slip that Kane, who was not expected to be back before the end of the season, could be fit for the second leg in Amsterdam next week.
When asked about Son’s absence, Moura said: “To have him in the second game and we hope Harry Kane, as well, recovers quick.”
Pochettino had to do some back-tracking but revealed Kane’s recovery is going well.
“He is doing well, he started to run a little bit inside,” he said.
“His rehab is so good but we cannot create an idea that afterwards we cannot achieve.
“He is good, he is in a good place, he is so focused and we will see what happens.”