Saturday 19 January 2019

How pre-match meeting with Diego Maradona inspired Harry Kane and Tottenham

Mark Mann-Bryans

Mauricio Pochettino introduced Harry Kane to Diego Maradona before the England international scored twice as Tottenham hammered a poor Liverpool side 4-1.

The World Cup winner was a special guest at Wembley, where he caught up with fellow Argentinian Pochettino before kick-off.

The pair had a short spell as team-mates at Newell's Old Boys in the early 1990s and met again as Maradona, who turned out for Tottenham in a friendly match in 1986, saw Kane and his Spurs colleagues blow Liverpool away.

Pochettino's side are now level on points with second-placed Manchester United in the Premier League, and the Spurs boss was delighted that Maradona was present to see his side finally make Wembley their home.

"I saw him before in the manager's room," Pochettino said.

"It was so emotional and difficult to let him go because when you are in front of Maradona you want to speak with him, stay with him and share a moment with him.

"It was after more than 20 years that I didn't see him. For me, he is the best player ever in football and he is massive - he remembers every single moment we shared when we played together."

Kane opened the scoring after just four minutes as a speculative chip forward from Kieran Trippier caught out Dejan Lovren and Kane converted into an empty net after Simon Mignolet had burst from his line.

It was a dreadful goal to concede but Lovren would miss another header soon after, allowing Kane to sprint free and square to Son Heung-min to slot home.

Mohamed Salah pulled a goal back after Jurgen Klopp had hauled off Lovren in the 31st minute but his defensive partner Joel Matip headed a free-kick straight to Dele Alli, who volleyed in.

The fourth saw Mignolet flap at a cross, with Kane eventually capitalising to steer in.

Kane, who along with Hugo Lloris was introduced to Maradona by Pochettino, now has 13 goals for the season and he earned high praise from his manager.

"I'm so pleased because always it is good when you enjoy football and he should enjoy the game. I introduced him with Hugo and Harry," Pochettino said.

It was another fantastic performance (from Kane), he is amazing. One of the best players, one of the best strikers in the world."

It was an afternoon to forget for Liverpool, with Klopp not wanting to look at any positives following a defeat which leaves them ninth in the table.

"It is difficult to talk about because I do not want to create headlines which don't help us," the Liverpool boss said.

"Today it was just defending in all parts. Everything that happened today was so cannot get results with performances like today."

Klopp also refused to lay any blame squarely at the door of Lovren, even though he replaced the Croatia international.

"Actually I really don't want to blame players and Dejan was no worse, to be honest, than Joel," he added.

"We have to prove we are better defenders than we are today. The only way to fix it is to stay strong. The first goal would not happen if I am on the pitch, in my trainers."

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