Pochettino is incredible – pulled off a miracle, says Tottenham legend Paul Miller
DAVE KITSON: First things first — you saw Harry Kane the other night, how is he looking?
PAUL MILLER: Harry came to a charity dinner, 14 of us from the Uefa Cup final were there.
The organisers knew Harry was coming but nobody else did, it was brilliant.
There was a young boy, Marshall, who lost his legs and hands to meningitis. When Harry walked out, the look on that little boy’s face was fantastic and emotional.
KITSON: Harry always comes across so well. What Marshall and the rest of us want to know is: Will he be fit for the final?
MILLER: Harry’s playing. Poch has a choice. Start him and give him 70 minutes or bring him on at half- time or after an hour?
There could be extra-time, remember. That would be two hours football after not playing for a while.
KITSON: What about Virgil van Dijk against Kane?
MILLER: Harry does well against Van Dijk and he always scores against Liverpool.
Van Dijk is all right but I don’t think he’s the superstar everyone makes out.
[quote credit="Paul Miller" /]
. It’s easy to be a defender nowadays.
KITSON: Famously, it was Spurs’ two centre-backs — you and Graham Roberts — who scored the goals in the 1984 final against Anderlecht, Tottenham’s last European final. Let’s go back to the beginning of your story.
MILLER: After I turned pro in 77, I was loaned out to a club in Norway, which was rare in those days. We finished third in the league and I was foreign player of the year.
I came back and we signed Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa. That changed our club.
Ossie says he would never have come if he’d known we had only just got promotion. They didn’t tell him that!
When we went up it was only really Steve Perryman and Glenn Hoddle who were top players. But the first year with Ossie and Ricky we finished halfway which was a tremendous feat because we weren’t a good team.
During that season, me, Tony Galvin and Mark Falco all made our debuts. Chris Hughton and Micky Hazard followed and within a year or two there’s six of us, including Perryman who’s a homegrown, who know and care about the club.
KITSON: The great spell for Spurs starts with the FA Cup final in 1981 and that Ricky Villa goal.
MILLER: We drew the first game against Manchester City 1-1 when Ricky just walked straight down the tunnel after being taken off. Steve Perryman says to Keith Burkinshaw in the evening: ‘I hope you’re not going to play Ricky in the replay because it was out of order’.
Ricky didn’t play average. He either had a poor game or a fantastic one.
A few of us were saying he shouldn’t play. How wrong were we?
KITSON: Then you won it again the following year.
MILLER: After 1981, we did the greatest thing in the world: We signed Ray Clemence.
The first thing we said was, ‘Clem, how did it happen at Liverpool?’
He said: ‘Basically you don’t drink enough!’
What he meant was we didn’t go out enough together.
At Liverpool, every Wednesday night they were out, so we started socialising more with each other and getting this fantastic team spirit. Clem was the missing piece of the jigsaw, he gave us that winning mentality.
KITSON: But when it came to that Uefa Cup final, Clem wasn’t playing and he wasn’t the only one out.
MILLER: We were also missing both Hoddle and Ardiles. We had two defenders in midfield, Gary Stevens and Perryman, in the first leg — which we drew 1-1 in Belgium.
Then Perryman was suspended for the second leg and Gary Mabbutt played in midfield — another defender. That finished 1-1, too, so it went to penalties.
Mabbsy, Robbo and Tony Galvin, by the way, were all scouted by Bill Nicholson and they cost next to nothing. Galvin cost five grand from Goole Town, what a signing!
They played more than 1,000 games between them.
KITSON: And Tony Parks was the hero, saving the last penalty in the shootout.
MILLER: Clem was actually fit for the Uefa Cup final. To be fair to Keith Burkinshaw, he said: ‘No, Tony Parks has been in the last two games and done well’.
Parksie was a great penalty saver. After training, the young lads like Falco and Hazard used to take penalties against him.
For the shootout at the end, we had the right goalkeeper. Clem would say the same, by the way.
KITSON: What were the celebrations like?
MILLER: Mixed. The chairman Irving Scholar had sacked Keith Burkinshaw at 4pm before we played Austria Vienna in the quarter-final.
Keith told only one person, Steve Perryman. We didn’t find out he would be going at the end of the season until after the semi final.
Me and Graham Roberts, both our contracts were up and we were arguing over five grand with the club. I had the opportunity of going Arsenal.
Robbo was going to go to Manchester United.
The final was a great result for us but I don’t think it had the happiness that the other cup finals had because of the unsettled feeling in the squad.
KITSON: Some may say it’s similar now, with the uncertainty about Poch.
MILLER: There’s no uncertainty. Mauricio is not going anywhere.
If he was, I think Real Madrid was going to be the one. Mauricio is already getting £10million a year, and he’s not about money, anyway.
He’s a very passionate, open man who wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s tactile, he cuddles you, he’s warm — but you know that if you f**k with him, he’ll kill you.
When he looks at you, he’s got black eyes and being sent off 13 times in Spain proves the point. I think he’s still in the top ten for red cards there.
KITSON: He’s taken Spurs to our first European final for 35 years.
MILLER: Ossie and I had a chat with Pochettino in the autumn. We went down to the dressing room after a game.
It was Poch, his three coaches, his two sons and his wife. This was when we had one point from three group games in the Champions League.
Poch said: ‘If we get out of this group and into the knockout stage, and finish in the top four, this will be my finest ever achievement’.
If you spoke to a Spurs fans then, they would have agreed with you.
To go to the final, without buying any players, lots of injuries, Wembley for three-quarters of the season – it’s a miracle.
I believe in fate and sometimes — like in 1981 when we drew third division Exeter in the Cup quarter-finals — you start to think your name is on the trophy.
KITSON: But, win or lose against Liverpool in Madrid, how do Spurs make this the start of something, rather than a freak one-off?
When Burkinshaw left in ’84, he famously said: ‘There used to be a football club over there’.
MILLER: He was totally right. The people who came in ruined our club and put us ten years behind Arsenal.
Now we have the best stadium in the world and we’ll attract some of the best players because of that.
I think Mauricio will get what he needs — six in, six out. Those six they won’t be over 25 and there will be two or three Englishmen, because Poch likes that.
The top 11 clubs are the six from England, plus Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juve, PSG and Bayern Munich.
In income terms, we’re now eight or nine in the world. Six or seven years ago we were Leicester, Wolves, West Ham, Everton.
We’re on a new planet now. Different gravy. Now we need to march on.
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