Spurs have created history with new stadium and European challenge – Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham have created history by building a new stadium and still challenging for top European honours.
The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which opened earlier this month, will host the Champions League semi-final first leg against Ajax on Tuesday as Spurs try to put one foot in a first-ever European Cup final.
To be one tie away from such a feat represents remarkable progress for the club under Pochettino, whose initial brief when he arrived five years ago was to get the team competing for a spot in the top four while the new stadium was being built.
In that time Spurs are heading for a fourth-successive year in the Premier League top four, while they have enjoyed a run to the League Cup final and reached two FA Cup semi-finals.
His critics have always pointed to the lack of silverware, but Pochettino suggests what he has achieved is bigger than winning a trophy.
“What is a thing we feel most?” he said.
“Proud, because we can develop two different things in football that no other club could do: the most unbelievable facilities and then put the club on the sports side in a very competitive place, reduce the gap to the top four, be contenders and play Champions League in three or four years.
“Normally it’s to move to the new stadium and then be competitive and look to play in the Champions League. Look how far ahead we are.
“That is why after five years we must congratulate everyone here. The job done is fantastic. Maybe we didn’t win a trophy, but what we achieve as a club is massive.
“Maybe more than winning a trophy. I don’t think anyone in history has achieved what Tottenham have made.”
Pochettino also lifted the lid on his first meeting with chairman Daniel Levy, where that initial target was set out.
And the most memorable part was Levy’s odd choice of clothes.
“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.
“We were talking about my feeling about the squad of Tottenham. They showed me that in the squad were more than 30, I think 34 or 35 players.
“I said, ‘Oh, it’s an NFL team’. How are you going to handle that? That was my first meeting with him.
“We talked a lot about my ideas, our ideas and how we can share the ideas and the principle objective was to help the club finish the training ground and build the stadium – but being competitive.
“That was the most important thing, the ambition was to try to be close to win. Because to have a project that is only to finish the stadium and facilities, is not inside me.
“I love to play for the glory.
“It was an ambitious project, in different ways to our opponents, to develop a project to be sure we are going to be financially safe to help the club achieve what we achieve after five years and be competitive.”