Tottenham captain Younes Kaboul is learning a lot from former Argentina defender Mauricio Pochettino – someone just 13 years ago he watched in awe when a ball boy at Auxerre.
Back in 2001, the defender was part of the Burgundy club’s youth system and would regularly work as a ball boy at Stade de l’Abbe-Deschamps.
One of those matches was Ronaldinho’s debut for star-studded Paris St-Germain, who were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw after being pegged back by a late acrobatic Djibril Cisse strike.
PSG had taken the lead towards the end of the first half, when captain neatly directed a free-kick into the goal Kaboul was sat behind.
That player was Argentina defender Pochettino, who 13 years later would give the captain’s armband to the Frenchman in his role as Tottenham head coach.
“He scored in the goal that I was just behind and I remember it,” Kaboul said with a smile. “It was a volley from his right foot and it was the first game of Ronaldinho being at PSG.
“I remember it like it was yesterday and now he is my manager.
“Of course I spoke to him about it and he remembered this goal. That was only 2001, it was not long ago when you think about and now he is my manager.”
Pochettino spent three years in France playing for PSG and then Bordeaux, before returning to his first club in Europe, Espanyol.
The defender was a regular for Argentina and represented them at the 2002 World Cup, so brings the kind of experience Kaboul is lapping up.
“Mauricio was a top defender first of all,” he said. “A very classy defender.
“We learn a lot from him because he has got experience at this level and we try to put in the game everything he has taught us.
“[He is helping me] to read the game. To read the game properly and to anticipate stuff.
“I think we have applied this already during the games.”
Kaboul has certainly looked impressive under Pochettino, following-up a man-of-the-match display in the 1-1 draw at rivals Arsenal with a solid display as Southampton were overcome 1-0 on Sunday.
It is such performances the France international hopes can finally put paid to the reputation he has for being injury prone.
“That is finished,” Kaboul said. “Look at me on the pitch.
“I want to end all the speculation about all of my injuries.
“You know, for a professional footballer you need a full pre-season. If he goes through all of this full pre-season over nearly two months, he should be fine.
“You always can have these little injuries, that is normal, but physically you feel much better.
“This is the first time I’ve had a pre-season for three years, so I had no injury, I am fully-fit and feel very good.”
Kaboul also cleared up the situation surrounding his contract, with many supporters thinking the defender is in the last year of his contract.
“I still have until June 2016,” he said. “I am very happy at Spurs.”
Have something to tell us about this article?