Christian Eriksen insists he will not feel any pressure when he runs out at Wembley looking to win the Capital One Cup with Tottenham.
The Denmark midfielder will be a key component if Spurs are to beat London rivals Chelsea and collect their first trophy in seven years – with the 23-year-old having impressed for much of the season.
But Eriksen, who has yet to feature at Wembley for club or country, will not let the level of expectation weigh on his shoulders, having grown up with constant pressure to succeed.
“I always had pressure, so I think I’ve learned to live with it,” he said.
“Of course, every player has a different style of play, has a different talent, so people look differently at you. But from the position I played, you need to have a bit of pressure, and I’ve always been used to it.
“I think a lot of players who start young always get the comparison to other people who are a bit older. So of course that started early. They started to put a bit of pressure, but I’ve been used to it from early on, from when I started playing.
“Always when there is a talent coming through, you are always being compared to somebody else, because he is doing right. But luckily I’m starting to make my own mark, so I’m better with that.”
As an exciting, emerging talent, Eriksen was in the spotlight early on in Denmark – with supporters and the media quick to pin their hopes on the youngster.
But it was also at home, through his father Thomas – a former footballer and coach – who also wanted his son to show he was good enough to warrant such attention.
“He was a coach for me when I was 7 to 13,” Eriksen said of his father.
“He stayed as a coach on the sideline until I moved to Ajax. He was a footballer as well, so he knew a lot of things and he knew what he wanted. There were some times when I had a bad game, he would tell me to do better.
“I’ve (had times where I had) been closing my door pretty hard after I spoke to him, of course. Locking the door to my room. But nothing else – it’s just been enjoying football.
“So we have the discussion or he has the discussion with me, and I’m listening. And then the day after, it’s a new day and nothing happens. It’s football.”
Everyone involved with Spurs has spoken in the build-up to the game about the confidence garnered from a 5-3 New Year’s Day victory over Chelsea, and Eriksen also feels it will give the players belief.
But it is head coach Mauricio Pochettino who Eriksen praises for the new-found character in the Tottenham squad and also for helping improve his own game.
“Yes I think so,” Eriksen said when asked if Pochettino had changed the mentality ahead of big games.
“When you get the results that we did last season when we lost with heavy scores against the bigger teams… Now this season we have started winning against teams we didn’t win against last season. That gives us a boost but also the confidence and everyone knows we can play against bigger teams.
“If you have a plan from a manager you know what to do, and what you’re capable of and you just want to show it. You get the confidence from the manager to do what you’re good at – that definitely helps you.”
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