Speaking in an exclusive interview with AS, new PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino discussed one day coaching Real Madrid, Leo Messi, and Alfredo Di Stéfano’s influence on him as a player.
On Lionel Messi
There’s nothing left to say. I respect and admire him so much that I prefer never to say anything or refer to him. It is the best tribute you can give someone. The two of us have worn the Newell’s jersey and that is something that is very big. That bond unites us. He is one of the best players of all time. What coach in the world would not want to have a player of the calibre of who you are talking to me about? I totally understand the question but it is a dangerous question as if a word of mine is taken out of context… ‘Pochettino will come out disrespectfully, Pochettino talks about this, Pochettino talks about that’.
On Real Madrid
I had the opportunity as a player to have signed for Madrid and it didn’t happen for whatever reason. And also because when I arrived at Espanyol in ’94, with Camacho, he always spoke to me about culture, mentality, what it meant to be part of a family like Real Madrid. It stuck in my head. Also later with Alfredo Di Stéfano. The more mature I got, the more Camacho’s influence affected me. He represents the values of Madrid, how the club is… It was always a goal of mine to be able to play for Real Madrid and when you can’t fulfil that dream. One says, well, look, one day to be able to coach Real Madrid, after Espanyol. And why not also one day to coach the Argentina national team, because one is born with the Argentine flag placed on his or her body.
On saying no to Real Madrid in June 2018 because he had a signed a contract with Tottenham
In life, you are to make decisions that make you happy with respect for others. You have to act according to what your values are. But that offer from Real Madrid, who did not have a coach at the time was like having had a moment of weakness. I’m sure I have weaknesses. Loyalty and honesty are qualities that in life have to be ahead of many other things. Things have to come when they have to. And they will come to you naturally, you cannot force them. Sometimes you have bad consequences for making decisions that aren’t right and go against what you feel. When I give my word, it is more than a signature. And at that time I had given Levy (Tottenham) my word to continue until the stadium was completed and the project for which they had come looking for me five years before. There was a relationship of respect and gratitude because he signed me from Southampton. He had always complied with me and it was more that I had not complied with him. I behaved as any person would have behaved. I was loyal and honest.