From Tottenham Hotspur
How are you feeling ahead of the first home game in the Champions League?
It is exciting times to be at Tottenham with Champions League football and the way we played last year we want to continue in similar fashion.
Is the Club a different place with Champions League football to look forward to?
We did so well to get fourth place last year and then we had the playoff to get through to the group stage and we are there now but we don’t want to settle for that. We want to be focused and get through the group stages.
Did you think Spurs had blown it after the defeat in Switzerland against Young Boys?
I think the first half an hour was a disaster giving three goals away and everyone knows that but the two away goals were a huge bonus. I always felt in the back of my mind that at White Hart Lane we would win and we did that convincingly.
You scored a hat-trick in the second leg, how did that feel?
It was great on a personal level to get a hat-trick on that day. It was a massive fixture for us and I thought the whole team played well but obviously it was great to get the matchball and I have got that at home signed by all the lads. It was a memorable occasion.
Are European nights at Tottenham Hotspur always special occasions?
Yes, it is massive. I have been lucky enough to have played in the Champions League before with Liverpool. It is the best competition in the world. Those nights at White Hart Lane are something we can look forward to. The qualifier was fantastic and we have our first home group game coming up and it is exciting times. I think the fans are really looking forward to the Champions League. Away in Germany we had a fantastic start, I thought we equipped ourselves well and at home I really believe we can beat anyone.
Do you prepare any differently to a domestic game?
I wouldn’t say so. Obviously, every game is important especially in the Premier League they are just as important as the Champions League but being evening games there is that added atmosphere at White Hart Lane and we are certainly looking forward to them.
What is it about the Champions League that excites you?
You watch it at home and as a footballer you just want to be a part of it. When you haven’t been involved in the Champions League you watch the games on television and they are massive. The best players in the world are playing in the competition. The music, the atmosphere, world-class players, it is a fantastic tournament and hopefully we can stay in it for a long time.
You have a lot of history in the Champions League, what would you say to any players who haven’t experienced playing in the competition?
To be honest, we all want to stay in the Champions League for as long as we can and make it through the group stage. I think you have to be so aware because you are up against the top players. Any slight mistake or lapse in concentration you might get away with on a Saturday but you won’t get that chance in the Champions League, you will be punished because you are playing against the best from around Europe. I am really pleased with my goal record in the Champions League and hopefully I can continue that.
How do you think Spurs are regarded globally?
People know that Tottenham Hotspur is a big club becuase it is exactly that with a lot of history and tradition although maybe it hasn’t been quite up to the standard that other clubs have set in recent years in England. I think we are the type of club that with the quality of players and the youngsters coming through now hopefully we can make Tottenham Hotspur the team, the squad and the club it should be.
What do you make of the new additions to the squad?
Gallas and van der Vaart are good players with great experience, they have been around Europe and will certainly help us in the Champions League. They have fantastic ability and obviously Sandro is a new up and coming young player and they have fitted into the squad and the dressing room quickly.
As a player do you worry about the number of fixtures you have to contend with now you are in the Champions League?
I think it is something more that the manager worries about. Hopefully I can play in as many games as I can. I am fit right now. We have got a big squad but with the amount of competitions we are in this season we will have to make use of the squad. Luckily we have got great strength in depth and international players to cover most positions so I don’t think that will be any excuse for us.
How far do you feel Spurs can go this year?
It is our first time in the Champions League and it will be difficult coming up against top quality players but I genuinely believe we can certainly get through the group stages and that is the first stage. Anything after that will be a bonus.
What are the team’s priorities this season?
It is difficult. The fans will tell you they want to have a fantastic run in the Champions League and I think we all do. It would be great for the Club but to finish fourth in the Premier League would be a great achievement again. It is difficult but if hopefully can balance out both competitions. Getting out the group stages would be a fantastic achievement but if we could cement that fourth place would be massive again.
How easy is it going to be?
It will be really difficult. Liverpool missed out on the top four last year, we want to get back in, Man City look very strong, Aston Villa as well. The top three have been there for many years so there is a lot of competition but I am confident we have enough ability in our dressing room to cement a top four finish again.
How important is a good goal celebration?
Haha! It has always been important to me. I haven’t pulled the robot out for a few years. Maybe I will put that one to bed unless we reach the Champions League Final!
From Tottenham Hotspur
Where did that celebration come from?
It was a joke between the team really that I would do it if I scored and I did. That’s where it came from and it has escalated since. I have seen it around the world now! It was just a bit of fun.
It is the best feeling in the world to score a goal. Many celebrations are not rehearsed, it depends on the situation. It is such a great feeling and a buzz.