Pochettino’s big dream has paid off handsomely with historic final spot
PUBLISHED: 17:00 31 May 2019
PA Wire/PA Images
Similarities between Bill Nicholson’s famous quote and the philosophy of this Tottenham manager were clear for all to see early on at Spurs
Before the Champions League final gets underway, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool will line up for a pre-match photo on the pitch, but the Spurs picture will be bigger than normal.
Mauricio Pochettino wants all 23 members of the squad - including the 12 substitutes - to be part of a special moment prior to kick-off.
Generally it is the starting XI who are captured before they get the game underway, but it speaks volumes about the Argentinian that it will be different in Madrid.
For Pochettino, it has always been about the collective. He has said this when Harry Kane has been injured, when defender Toby Alderweireld was only a sub and throughout his five-year spell.
Without such focus on everyone in the squad, Spurs would never have made it this far and reached a first European Cup final in the club's history.
On the eve of the biggest match the Lilywhites have played, the inspirational leader from Murphy, Argentina said: "I think it should be a very good idea for Tottenham to have the possibility before the game to take a picture of the 23.
"If they win they will be super heroes across the world, not only the 11."
The answer came in response to a question about how difficult it will be for Pochettino to pick his starting XI, but he doesn't feel it will be any different to last time.
He found it tough to select his team to face Everton on the final day of the Premier League season when Spurs recorded a fourth straight top-four finish.
When Pochettino was appointed on May 27, 2014, Tottenham's main ambition was to bring Champions League football back to this part of London and now they are close to winning the whole competition.
It has been an unbelievable few years and only possible really due to his management in the face of all kinds of problems.
A single season at Wembley was the plan and it turned into nearly two, before Spurs returned home to N17 in April this year.
He was meant to keep the club competitive before they moved into their new 62,062-seater venue and yet mounted two unexpected challenges for the title.
It failed to result in a trophy and so did numerous semi-final appearances in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, plus one final, but the future looks very bright.
Yet reaching the Champions League final was never something any fan could predict, but from early on Pochettino has insisted the club has to aim big.
Similarities between the great Bill Nicholson's famous quote and the philosophy of this Tottenham manager were clear for all to see, but achieving it was different.
But here they are - Spurs in the final of the Champions League after doing it in typical fashion.
They were close to being out in the Netherlands, not only against Ajax in the semi-finals, but when they played PSV in the group.
It took a 2-1 victory at Wembley over the Eindhoven side to finally kick-start the club's Champions League campaign once and for all.
Tottenham finished the match with Paulo Gazzaniga in goal and Fernando Llorente up top and fast forward to the semi-finals and it highlights the squad's importance.
When the full time whistle went and a 3-2 victory over Ajax was confirmed, Kane and Harry Winks were not on the pitch and neither was Danny Rose.
Lucas Moura was the hero and he was the last player Tottenham signed back in January 2018 with Pochettino since having to make do with the players in his squad.
He has transformed so-called flop Moussa Sissoko into Spurs' player of the season, helped Rose shine again and used Alderweireld again who has responded with one of his best campaigns to date.
Everyone has been key to this journey to the final and it's why 23 players will be in the picture on Saturday just before 8pm.
Pochettino added: "Maybe one player from the bench can be decisive and help us win the Champions League. Maybe the most important player is sitting in the beginning.
"That is why I said in the past when I was a player I remember when we played the final of Copa del Rey in the Bernabeu against Real Zaragoza and I was captain of the Espanyol team.
"I always tried to put the idea for this situation in finals to put the 23 or 24 before the game in the photo. Then of course the players stay or go to the bench.
"There will be 11 players on the wall, but maybe one from the bench was more important. But after in history the photo of the 11 players shows."
Given Tottenham's adventure in this tournament so far, it would be no surprise to see a substitute net the winner for Spurs.
If they did, Pochettino would take the plaudits and he deserves all the praise he gets for leading the Lilywhites to Madrid and the biggest final in club football.
When he took over, he won his first game in charge away to West Ham United and that was a very good result at the time.
Since then, he has made that type of result a formality and success over the world's leading clubs the prime target.
Victories against Inter Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City and Ajax have got Tottenham this far despite little spending, especially compared to Pep Guardiola's team.
It makes every Spurs achievement more impressive, but Pochettino wants one final result this season to complete the sweetest win of all.
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