The Tottenham and England winger has a quick chat with FFT's James Maw about Tottenham's managerial change, the battle for a World Cup place and on-pitch selfies...
You’ve played on the left wing and the right wing this season, but which do you consider your best position?
I can play either side. I came through the ranks as a left winger, and it was only when Andre Villas-Boas came in that I switched to the right. Now I prefer playing on the right, but I think I’m equally effective on the left.
When I play on the right I can go both ways – I can cut inside and have a shot with my left foot, or go down the line and put a cross in with my right foot. It just makes me a bit more unpredictable. I grew up in the youth team watching Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon; I spent a lot of time watching what they did and then took what I thought I needed out of their game for my game.
I did also play left-back in a Europa League game [against Hearts, in August 2011]. I was only 20 at the time, and at that age and playing for your hometown club, you’d play in any position.
Which players did you look up to as a kid?
Ronaldo – the Brazilian – was my favourite player as a kid, but I also loved Ryan Giggs who played in the same position as me at the time. He was someone I’d watch closely to see how he dribbled, got crosses in, and got into shooting positions. Growing up as a Spurs fan, I also loved David Ginola – especially the way he used to take people on and get the fans excited and up off their seats.
What are Tottenham’s aims for the remainder of the season?
We’ve got to stop looking at the teams around us, just look to get three points from every game we play and see where it takes us.
The Europa League is a fantastic competition, and we tried to win that, but now all our focus is on getting results in the Premier League every Saturday or Sunday – I think we’re definitely going into matches a lot fresher.
Some have suggested Spurs would be better off not qualifying for the Europa League next year – what do you make of that? Has post-European fatigue been a factor this season?
No, I don’t think that’s a factor. Every game we go into we feel good, we feel fresh, so I don’t think you can read too much into that.
The Europa League is a very prestigious competition – it’s definitely a competition we’re looking to be involved in...
The Europa League is a very prestigious competition – you only have to look at the teams who are left in it, they’re all top teams. Next season the winners get a place in the Champions League, so it’s definitely a competition we’re looking to be involved in, worst case scenario, and we want to try and win it.
How difficult was it to get injured just as Tottenham changed manager?
It’s never nice to get injured – especially when you’re playing well – but when a new manager comes to the club and you’re on the sidelines, it’s very difficult. Luckily I know Tim, I played under him for the under-21s and he knows the way I play. He had a word with me and told me not to rush the injury and that I’d be in his plans, which was obviously nice to hear and gave me the incentive to get right before I came back to the first team.
Are there big differences between Tim Sherwood and AVB?
For me, they’re both top managers. I’m very grateful to Andre – he gave me my first run in the Spurs first team and helped me get my England call-up. On the other hand, Tim has been fantastic in my development coming through and when I was going out on loan.
Do you think having played well for England in the last two qualifiers gives you the edge over your rivals for a World Cup place?
I’m not too sure, I don’t think that matters now. Whoever’s playing well at the right time will get in the squad. I need to get my form going from now until the end of the season to hopefully secure my place.
There are some top wingers playing well at the moment; Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner, Adam Lallana, Adam Johnson – the list goes on. There are loads of English players in those positions looking to get in the World Cup squad and I’m no different.
One of your tweets suggested you were none too impressed by Wojciech Szczesny’s on-pitch selfie after the recent north London derby – any chance you’d take one if Spurs beat Arsenal next season?
Definitely not – there’ll be no selfies from me on the pitch. You’re there to play football, you’re not there to take pictures of yourself on the pitch and gloat. That kind of thing can come back to bite you on the bum. You can take a picture of yourself smiling one week and then the next week you get turned over.