How important is it to get through to the last 16 of the Champions League?
“It’s a great achievement for the club. As I’ve said we believe in ourselves and we’ll just keep going and try to win games and that’s it. We’ve done great in all the matches, especially at home, we played very well and so strong, I think we deserve it.”
You are now through with the two Milans, Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, the big, big names of Europe. Spurs are there and they deserve to be there with them?
“Of course, because we play great football, we try to do our best on the pitch and that’s why we deserve it.”
Can you call Spurs the entertainers?
“Yes, of course. I think we play great football and we just need to keep going. Of course this is not finished yet, we need to go against Twente, and try to finish first. I think this will make the difference for us. It is not easy, the next step, but we need to keep going.”
You beat the champions Inter here so impressively, and you could be playing all these big names in the competition. Would you be afraid of meeting any team, the big names?
“Of course not. Football is decided on the pitch, not outside. And we showed against Inter, and against Twente, who are not easy to play against. And, against Bremen the game looked easy, but we made the game easy, and I think we can fight with them.”
You reached the semi-finals of the Champions League with PSV, how far can Tottenham go in this competition?
“I think I told you before, this squad is much better than the squad I reached the semi-final with at PSV, but I think we can go a long way.”
What is so special about this squad or manager?
“I think we play together, we think in the same way, that’s why we play good football. The manager gives us a lot of confidence, he believes in his squad and that’s why we play very good at the moment.”
Clean sheet for you as well?
“Finally, finally (he was smiling a lot).”
You weren’t getting worried about it, were you?
“No, no, of course not. The most important thing for me is winning games, but, of course it’s a great feeling after when you keep a clean sheet.”
In this competition you’ve had some really amazing nights, sent off at Inter, seen a lot of goals go in, but tonight was quite a routine night, not much drama?
“I know, that’s better for you as a defender.”
Better for the heart?
“No, no, I’m okay, I’m okay, I have no problem. I have played a lot of big games and this is no problem for me, if a lot of goals come. But if the ball does not come (into the goal) it’s much better. But I think the back-four did great, and also Wilson [Palacios] coming on as well for Jermaine [Jenas], he stopped a lot of counter-attacks and that’s made the difference for us.”
Is there somebody you’d like to meet in the knockout stages in February, someone in particular?
“Any team, any team. I think I you want to go a long way, to be the best, you need to fight anyone.”
The Final is at Wembley, there’s no greater incentive is there, for an English team especially to get to the Final. Can you even think about that?
“Yeah, a little bit. We have to think about the next step, and the next step is Twente first, and then of course we need to be prepared for the next one. But we think a little bit, for the English team, this is so special when we play here, and playing at Wembley, a Final. This is so important for us, but the most important thing is we have to keep going first, and then it’s step by step.”
Thoughts on beating Werder Bremen?
We did a real professional job, Werder came to defend and the early goal put paid to that, it was a professional job from then on with the clean sheet. When the draw came up with Inter Milan it could have been a lot easier, to be honest but we’ve got such quality in our dressing room that we shouldn’t be afraid of anyone. We’ve proved that, even this week. We beat Arsenal and won another Champions League game quite comfortably so we shouldn’t be frightened of anyone.
Do you have enough belief?
I said right from the start when I came to this club, I looked around the dressing room thinking how we’ve not achieved anything. I think it’s only a matter of time. Last season finishing fourth was a great achievement but we can go one better and try and win something this year.
Is this the best group of players you’ve been involved with at any club?
I think it might be. We had some great individuals when I was at Liverpool and we managed to reach a Champions League final, which is fantastic. But as a group of players I don’t think I’ve played with better really. Not just that, we have a young squad. We have so many international players, waiting to get on and get a game and it’s just a pleasure being part of it.
How does it feel to qualify out of this group?
It’s exciting stuff. You see the fans, it’s so exciting for them, being involved in our first Champions League campaign. We don’t want to get too carried away but it’s looking good.
The manager, the defenders and the goalkeeper wanted to keep a clean sheet. It was important we did. We’re fantastic going forward but we’ve conceded some late goals when we should have been winning comfortably.
Are you pleased with your contribution in Europe?
Very pleased. I’ve always enjoyed playing in the Champions League.
How important is it now you’ve qualified to kick on in the Premier League and get in the top four?
We all enjoy playing at White Hart Lane and under the lights in the Champions League. The players love it, the fans love it and the only way you cement that other than winning it is by finishing fourth. We have to make sure we are as consistent in the League as we are in the Champions League at the moment.
We’ve shared the goals out a bit, we’ve got quite a few and we have some great attacking players in the side. It’s a dream come true for someone like myself to just get on the end of things. It’s exciting times and hopefully we can go on and do well in the Champions League.
We just have to play to the best of our ability and there is no limit to what we can achieve.
First things first we want to finish first in the group, a lot of big teams have won their group so it would be nice to finish top and I don’t think it matter who we get, it’s just fantastic to be there. I think we can give a good account of ourselves and hopefully win the next game.
What are your thoughts on the club’s run in the Champions League?
It was very important for us to qualify, for us and the fans, for Tottenham. We did the job very well.
It’s very nice and important for the team when you do not concede a goal, it means everyone has worked hard.
Why have Tottenham settled so well in Champions League?
You have to ask the manager. Maybe he has something magic. But when we play in the Champions League we just want to play, we don’t worry too much.
Can you win the group and how important would it be to do that?
I think it would be important for us to finish on top, so that means we have to get a good result in Twente, maybe we have to win there. It will not be easy but we have to finish the job right.
Were the team riding on a wave of euphoria after beating Arsenal?
All the players want to win every game. After Saturday I think the players know we can do something, we have the quality, so what we have to understand is to believe in ourselves, go on the pitch and fight for 90 minutes.
And do it in a big Premier League game after a Champions League game?
Yes. I think with the squad we’ve got we can do everything so now we have to work hard with the training and work hard during the game.