Marseille midfielder Dimitri Payet has admitted that it will be special to walk out at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the Champions League clash this evening.
Tottenham’s state-of-the-art stadium has only hosted a handful of Champions League games as the North London club have failed to qualify for the competition during the last two seasons.
Europe’s premier club competition will return to the 62,850-capacity venue this evening, with Antonio Conte’s men set to kick off their campaign against a Marseille side, who are unbeaten this season.
Payet has played at White Hart Lane during his time at West Ham and the experienced midfielder admitted he is now looking forward to running out at Tottenham’s new home ground.
The 35-year-old told Football.London: “I think it is important to be well acquainted with the intensity of the Premier League. I have played in a few derbies when I was at West Ham and know how intense they are.
“Also Tottenham have another asset this time around of course because they have this stadium. When I was here a few years ago the stadium wasn’t the size it is today.
“It is significantly bigger, with a lot more fans to support them but it is always a pleasure to come back to London and to play in this wonderful setting.
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“There is the Dortmund Wall isn’t there. I suppose behind the goal and when you approach the stadium from the outside and go onto the pitch, yeah it is really exciting. This is probably the charm of the competition. Visiting different stadiums.”
Payet was a big hit in the Premier League after joining the Hammers in 2015 but the French international returned to Marseille just 18 months later. He insisted that while he enjoyed his time in England, he does not regret his decision to return to France.
Payet added: “Sure, the Premier League helped me to realise a dream, I suppose. To play in the Premier League and to play in England because everyone dreams about playing here, particularly now when you look at the teams who are playing in the Premier League, it is getting stronger and stronger and a really tough league to play in.
“I spent 18 months full of emotions, excitement after Euro 2016 but no I don’t have any regrets. It was a choice I made, a personal choice and a family-based choice as well.
“Since I left West Ham I have stayed at Marseille, I haven’t gone to any other club and don’t intend on going to any other club, so it wasn’t leaving for the sake of leaving.
“It was a personal decision, a family decision and yeah, it was a pretty brutal break I suppose when I left, that’s true, but I hope over the course of the years West Ham fans have come to understand why I left, I would certainly like and hope to think that.”
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This is not the same Payet that Spurs came up against during his West Ham days, with the midfielder now in the twilight of his career. However, having said that, he can still produce moments of magic that can change a game and will be a big threat on set pieces.