Victor Wanyama has been speaking about his time at Tottenham, including being part of the squad that made the Champions League final, and his experience of working with Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho.
Wanyama had an excellent first season at Tottenham after arriving from Southampton in the summer of 2016, with the Kenyan forming a formidable partnership in the middle of the park with Mousa Dembele.
However, injuries prevented the midfielder from having a regular run in the side in the subsequent seasons, although he was part of some memorable matches including the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City during Tottenham’s run to the final in 2018-19.
Wanyama has now been speaking about the excitement among the squad at reaching the final in Madrid but he admitted that the memories of the night are not pleasant, given that the Lilywhites failed to lift the trophy.
When asked how he felt leading up to the final, the former Spurs man told journalist Eric Njiru: “It’s always great to know that you are going to play in a Champions League final, and the preparation is like no other.
“You try to be in shape and you try to be the best version of yourself since it is not like any other game.
“You prepare the best, make sure you work hard and play yourself into the best form that you can. It is not easy as you also have the happiness of playing on such a big stage, and you also have to perform, not just to be there.
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“It’s not easy to focus. You have to have a strong mind to adjust, to be yourself, and be in the best form you can be.
“The atmosphere (in the final) was cool but it was really tough because we could not do what we wanted to do. If you are in the final, you are there to win it. If you don’t win it, it’s really tough.
“It was a tough time as things did not go our way but that is life sometimes and that is sometimes football as well. That’s football.”
Wanyama also opened up on his experiences of working with the two managers he had at Spurs. When asked about Pochettino, the Kenyan simply responded: “We had a great time, and achieved a lot of things.”
However, he admitted that he had already made up his mind to leave Tottenham by the time Mourinho replaced Pochettino at the helm in 2019.
He said about the Portuguese coach: “My time with him was a bit mixed as he came at a time when I was injured. It was difficult for him to know the group.
“He came also when I wanted to leave the club. I made up my mind that I wanted to leave the club, and it was hard for him. But he was a great coach, no doubt about that.”
Spurs Web Opinion
I am probably not alone among Spurs fans in not ever having watched the highlights of that Champions League final.
While the wins over City and Ajax were amazing nights, the final itself is a complete blur because things went badly for us right from the first minute, with Liverpool being awarded a penalty just seconds after kickoff.