Sunday 25 August 2019

Rio grand example for aspiring Premier League defenders – Juan Foyth

As a youngster, Foyth idolised the former Leeds and Manchester United centre-back.

Juan Foyth, pictured, has always looked up to Premier League great Rio Ferdinand (John Walton/PA)
Juan Foyth, pictured, has always looked up to Premier League great Rio Ferdinand (John Walton/PA)

By Declan Warrington, Press Association Sport

Tottenham’s Juan Foyth is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Rio Ferdinand having finally begun to adjust to English football.

The defender responded to a disappointing Premier League debut, in which he conceded two penalties in a 3-2 victory over Wolves, to head the game’s only goal as Spurs won 1-0 at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Mauricio Pochettino has had little option but to rotate his squad in his attempts to cope with a demanding run of fixtures, and over a year after his arrival in England the 20-year-old Foyth is among those being given a chance to impress.

He grew up not only aspiring to play in the Premier League but admiring Ferdinand, among the division’s finest ever defenders.

He said: “I was young, but I know he was an amazing centre-back. I’d play the Playstation and when I’d play with friends I’d say ‘I’m Rio Ferdinand’.

“Playing (football) with friends, I always played centre-back, and I’d say ‘I’m Rio Ferdinand’. Since I was a kid my dream was playing in the Premier League, so I’m enjoying it.

“(Last week) was a strange feeling because it was my (Premier League) debut, and I conceded two penalties, but the important thing was we got the win and I tried to learn from that. That’s the most important thing.”

Another improving at Spurs is Moussa Sissoko, previously considered a disappointing £30million signing in his two years there but who is now playing regularly and impressing.

“Things are now the opposite and he is a hero of the fans,” said Pochettino. “In football you must always show respect because sometimes different players need a different amount of time to produce performances in the way that you want.

“I am so happy for Moussa because he deserves the love he is getting from fans and his team-mates. He is a massive guy but he is so big-hearted and so nice.”

Palace’s Max Meyer similarly arrived in London with an exciting reputation he is yet to justify, but the club’s supporters booed manager Roy Hodgson’s decision to replace him with Jeffrey Schlupp after they fell behind.

Having excelled in leading them to safety following a troubled start to last season, Hodgson’s leadership is being questioned by some of those supporters, but the 71-year-old said: “(Meyer) didn’t play very well so I don’t understand what people see sometimes.

“He has been given a reputation as a ‘wonder kid’ and so maybe it was that and people think there is something there but I don’t think that anyone watching the game who was studying it can be so surprised that I took him off.

“That is what fans do. As far as we are concerned it is water off a duck’s back.

“Funnily enough Schlupp, who came on for Meyer, was one of the instrumental people. So fans see different things and believe different things and they are encouraged to believe different things. I just watch what I see on the field and make my decision.”

PA Media

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