When Mauricio Pochettino took over, he and Daniel Levy talked about possibilities, and they spoke of a five-year plan to get us into the Champions League (a top four place). But instead of gradually moving closer and closer to that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, we hopped skipped and jumped through the Champions league year by year until we reached that five-year deadline, but not with the final year of Champions league placing, as that had already been achieved, but to the final instead. Against all odds we had made it.
Right at the beginning, I said that within Pochettino’s Spurs life-time we would make that final. I saw things I hadn’t seen before in a manger. I also saw us rising like a phoenix from Daniel Levy’s vision and the old stadium to new heights, new goals and new trophies.
Yes, this season we had a rocky start in our group stage, but we plodded away and finally managed to finish second to take us to the next level. Travelling all over Europe in our quest for that glorious portal that would take us to the enchanted land of footballing gods.
Looking around the outside of their stadium, before kick-off I imagined us in the final in Madrid. I looked back at what we had achieved under Pochettino. Not always smooth and this season had been rockier than previous outings, but we stood proud, and yes, we were given a helping hand from the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and United (in the league), but we sustained our top four spot (just), but most importantly made inroads. This Sunday we play Everton, a much improved Everton side since we thrashed them at their ground over Christmas (6-2). But it isn’t over yet, if we lose by eight goals, or Arsenal win by eight goals or a combination of the two we will be out of the top four. So it isn’t over – completely – until the final whistle (Arsenal are away to Burnley).
The road to Ajax/ Amsterdam was an up and down road, but as employees and fans, we set foot wherever the club went. We saw beautiful sights, met friendly people on the way and drunk as much as was possible, but always with faith in our hearts and minds.
After the group stages we faced and beat Dortmund (4-0 agg), that was quickly followed by Manchester City, favourites to win that competition, but we beat them in two pulsating matches (4-4, we went through on the away goal).
After my walk around the outside of stadium, it was time to go back in and admire the sight in the stadium. Ajax fans were waving their flags just before kick-off. It created a magnificent impression; like waves on the seas giving that quixotic hypnotic sensation.
As I said, I was confident. Even when their first goal went in (second overall) I was still optimistic that our name was on the trophy. But when their third goal went in we wobbled, but still self-assured (with fingers crossed). Then the half-time whistle went, a time for reflection and planning.
Moura was the inspiration, producing three clinical finishes in the second half, the third and decisive goal coming when he picked the ball up from Dele Alli’s flick and shot across Onana. Moura became the only the fifth player to score a Champions League semi-final hat-trick, and first since Cristiano Ronaldo in May 2017 for Real Madrid against Atletico Madrid, but I am jumping the gun here.
We had lost our three previous semi-finals, including an agonising penalty shootout defeat by Chelsea in this season’s Carabao Cup. Having moved into a new £1bn stadium last month, these are going to be exciting times for us, as we chase our first trophy in 11 years. With another top-four Premier League finish all but sealed, we are one win away from being crowned champions of Europe. This after we took only one point from our first three group stage games and required late goals to beat PSV Eindhoven and Inter Milan, before an 85th-minute goal from Moura against Barcelona in the Nou Camp, took us through to the knockout stage.
Boasting a three-goal aggregate advantage at half-time, their fans were in party mood before our amazing comeback. De Ligt’s early header from a corner after Hugo Lloris had denied Tadic was followed by Ziyech’s clever finish and left us with a mountain to climb. Little did we know what was to come, inspired by the exceptional Moura, produced an epic turnaround.
In the dying minutes Moura made the Ajax fans cry their eyes out. It was over for them, but a new beginning for us.
Pochettino could not contain his emotions at the final whistle and shed tears of joy as he celebrated passionately with his players on the pitch. Pochettino, who marks his fifth anniversary in charge of Spurs later this month, was on his knees after a night that rivalled the jaw-dropping drama of Liverpool’s incredible semi-final victory over Barcelona on Tuesday. Harry Kane, who is still recovering from an ankle injury, also joined his team-mates on the pitch at the end after tour remarkable comeback.
We celebrated throughout the night and into the next morning. We had done it, and even though we had gone through the emotions and anguishes over the previous months, we had finally achieved something none of our previous teams had achieved.
At the last game of the season there will be more celebrations, then a three-week break before UEFA Champions League Final in Madrid. Until them saviour the moment and think big, nothing is impossible.
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