Mauricio Pochettino was a guest of honour at the first public test event for Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium and was invited down on to the pitch at half-time during the under-18 match against Southampton.
Speaking to Paul Coyte, who also acted as master of ceremonies during ‘The Finale’ that saw fans, former players and the current squad mark the final match at White Hart Lane, the Argentinian gave his thoughts on the benefits the 62,062-seater arena to his side and the club’s future.
That capacity makes the new Tottenham stadium the third largest football ground in England, and the sixth largest in the UK for all sports venues.
Pochettino also gave credit to chief executive Daniel Levy for having the vision to build the stadium on the site of White Hart Lane.
“I feel it’s unbelievable,” he said when asked for his first impressions of the test event. “It’s so difficult to explain with a few words. We all feel the same. It’s so exciting. I got the same feeling on the last day when we left White Hart Lane. We were crying.
“The first day here, at the new stadium, I feel the same emotion. We are nearly crying because our dream became true and we have to say thank you, first of all, to Daniel Levy because in 2001 when he started to believe in that dream.
“Thanks first of all to everyone today to be here and to Daniel and the board and all the people that make Tottenham because it is a lot of people in the club that work so tough to make this dream a reality and for us because we are going to enjoy. Thank you so much for being patient over last year, year and a half as we moved to Wembley.”
Fans had originally been promised that they would return to Tottenham after only a year at Wembley Stadium but due to delays the opening date was pushed back, generating fears that the club may have to wait until the 2019/2020 season to go back to their home.
However, if the test events are successful then Spurs will face Crystal Palace in their first senior match at the new Tottenham stadium on Wednesday April 3.
“All the problems that it means to move from your home to Wembley,” sad Pochettino, who hopes a homecoming for Spurs could inspire them to beat Manchester City to reach last four of the Champions League.
“But now it’s a pay off for all the effort and it’s ready to be amazing and noisy and it’s going to have a great impact for the team, for the players, for the club because we have the possibility to finish this season.
“Because I think we are in a very good place in the Premier League and of course we have a massive challenge in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. I think with all our fans – 62,000 people behind us – it will be fantastic to play and we can make possible our dream of playing in the semi-finals. Why not?”
Pochettino finished his interview by praising the atmosphere at White Hart Lane and talked up the potential of the new Tottenham stadium.
“I had the opportunity to play in White Hart Lane,” he said. “I was a manager first at Southampton and then at Tottenham and you feel the support, the atmosphere, the energy of your fans and we play for you, the game.
“It’s going to be a massive impact for the team to have all fans and that feeling. It’s our new house but we’re going to create a new home and that is going to be different. When it starts to feel like that, like our new home, it will be magic.
“White Hart Lane was magic but I feel that this new stadium is the best in the world. We will start to feel that as it starts to feel like home. I hope and I wish because I really believe that the future of the club is going to be fantastic.”
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