Tottenham youngster Japhet Tanganga has revealed that Jose Mourinho asked him if he would be scared to face Liverpool before handing the youngster his Premier League debut on Saturday.
Mourinho’s decision to start Tanganga came as somewhat of a surprise especially with Jan Vertonghen and Eric Dier both sat on the bench.
However, the defender didn’t look out of place at all as he held his own against the likes of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
The 20-year-old, who earned Mourinho’s praise after the game (Football.London), revealed what happened in the week leading up to the game.
Speaking to the club’s official website, the defender said: “The gaffer mentioned it on Tuesday and asked me, ‘do you want to play?’, I said ‘yes’ and he said ‘you won’t be scared?’, I said ‘no, I won’t be scared’ so we did shape two or three days leading up to the game and I thought ‘yep, I’m in the team’.
“From there, the boys have been excellent, cheering me on, encouraging me, letting me know it’s just another game, as much as it’s my debut, as much as I’m playing against one of the best teams around right now, it doesn’t matter.
“I come up against Sonny in training, Harry Kane, all the top guys here, so it’s like training, keep going, keep my head up and they were great.”
While Tanganga admitted that making his debut against a side like Liverpool was a dream come true, he insisted that it was a bittersweet experience due to the result.
He said: “It means a lot, honestly, a lot. From a young age you dream about this. You see guys on TV, and you are like ‘I want to be there, I want to have that opportunity’ and when it comes, it’s just a great feeling.
“Again, it would have been much better if we’d won the game, a much better feeling. I’m happy to make my debut but the feeling is still disappointing.
:I’ve made my debut, but like the game, it’s gone now. I’ll celebrate with my family, they are all here, but after tomorrow it’s gone and onto the next one.
“Hopefully I’ll get a chance in the Middlesbrough game (FA Cup replay, Tuesday, 8.05pm) and we can get through to the next round. After that, we’ll just see how it goes from there. I’ll keep working hard in training, doing the right things, listening to what the gaffer wants, just keep my head down and leave it to the gaffer.”
The Spurs academy product claimed that the Reds couldn’t cope with Spurs in the final 20 minutes and that the home side could have nicked something from the game.
He added, “We said we had to reach half-time at 1-0 with the game still there for the taking. At half-time we said to make sure we kept our heads up and in the second half, last 20, I thought they couldn’t handle us.
“When Coco (Erik Lamela) and Lo Celso came on, they brought energy and gave us a lift, and we were able to create chances.
“Overall, it’s a bittersweet debut, happy to make my debut but disappointed about the result. I really thought we could have nicked something out there, a draw, maybe even a win, but results don’t always go your way.”
Spurs Web Opinion
It is important that we don’t get too excited with Tanganga’s performance as consistency is the key variable that separates average defenders from the really good ones. The youngster however seems to be quite humble and willing to learn. If he does prove that he is good enough for this level, it will certainly save the club a lot of money in the transfer window as good defenders are extremely expensive in the current market.
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