Mauricio Pochettino on Tottenham's guiding passion
After a shaky start to the group stage, Tottenham Hotspur have overturned the odds repeatedly to get to their first UEFA Champions League final, and manager Mauricio Pochettino is determined to enjoy the moment.
Spurs boss since 2014, the 47-year-old has yet to win a major European trophy – as either player or coach – but is determined to make the most of the opportunity when his side take on Liverpool in Madrid on Saturday.
On Tottenham’s first UEFA Champions League final …
What does it mean? I think it means being at the top of world football, in a position that very few others have experienced. We’re very down-to-earth people, so while it’s taken so much effort, we’ve also enjoyed every moment and I think that’s what we represent.
It means so much that it’s difficult to describe in just a few words or minutes. It’s something that hasn’t fully sunk in just yet. We can grasp it to some extent now, but when we’re in Madrid and the game begins, we’ll have a better understanding of it. The predominant feeling across the coaching staff is that we’re grateful to football, this club and, above all, the players.
On Tottenham’s battling qualities …
We’ve enjoyed every moment of this Champions League campaign and every game has been a final for us, as we’ve seen with the way we’ve celebrated and enjoyed them. As for our preparations, we’ve been working towards our end goal, and thanks to [our efforts] we’re now in the Champions League final.
Was the target at the start of the campaign to reach the Champions League final? Certainly not, but it was to win every game in front of us, to get over every obstacle, to put in a huge effort to know we’ve done all we can, and to have the strength to achieve something wonderful. I think that’s what’s got us here today.
On his core footballing values …
Passion is the main thing. The football that we all love comes from emotion and passion. Football inspires and excites us. It’s a given that players at a professional football club are talented. The most important thing is feeling inspired by what you love and having the internal drive to push yourself on. That’s what helps you to enjoy what you’re doing every day. Then, that drive is what helps you to convey your ideas so you can work on them together with the club, the staff and the players. Everyone needs to feel they’re part of those ideas, everyone needs to be able to make suggestions and feel they are participating.
On enjoying the adventure …
We’ve really enjoyed the good moments and the not-so-good moments as well, because they put us in a position to improve, show our strength, take a step forward, come out of our comfort zone and try to discover something new.
We’ve treated the competition as a blessing and, first of all, we’ve had to enjoy it, with the responsibility that we have to give our best, be responsible and professional and, of course, do as good a job as possible to give us a chance of doing well. Even when you do that, results often don’t come because there’s still a percentage of luck you need to go your way. But if you work hard to make that luck, you’ll certainly reduce that percentage.