Harry Kane's half-time speech inspired us, say teammates
Harry Kane helped to inspire Tottenham Hotspur's incredible Champions League semifinal fightback against Ajax with a passionate half-time speech to rescue reputations and give the squad what could be a last chance to write themselves into the club's history.
The Daily Telegraph understands that, with the team 3-0 down on aggregate and heading for a tame exit, Kane, who was out injured, asked: "Is this how we want to be remembered?"
It was not only the Champions League journey that was at stake for some, with the tournament potentially providing a last opportunity for this group to lift a trophy as manager Mauricio Pochettino had warned of a "painful" summer rebuild.
Tottenham have, at times unfairly, been accused of bottling the big occasions and Kane laid it on the line to players who had been outfought and outmanoeuvred.
REMEMBERED FOR DISAPPOINTMENT
Kane asked whether they wanted yet another season to be remembered ultimately for its disappointment, particularly given the effort it took to get past Manchester City in the previous round. He also questioned how they could be so lacklustre after watching Liverpool's comeback against Barcelona 24 hours earlier.
It certainly did the trick, as a second-half hat-trick from Lucas Moura secured Tottenham's place in the final, which Kane is now desperate to be fit for.
Speaking about Kane's influence, Kieran Trippier, who improved markedly after a torrid first half, said: "Harry is exceptional for club and country. I don't know the timescale with his injury, but obviously we're all hoping he can be back because of his presence. Even here at half-time, he's coming in going mental at us because we can do better, which we all knew.
"But this is what we need, the leadership that he has, the way he came in at half-time. He wasn't happy and we all knew that. He just gives us that extra lift because his presence is massive for us."
Midfielder Moussa Sissoko added: "Harry Kane is the leader of the team, so he came in the dressing room [at half-time] and before the game he was in. He said we have to give everything in the second half, we have nothing to lose and we can all do it together. That's exactly what we've done."
Kane made a dash across the turf to celebrate with his teammates at the final whistle and will start training on grass next week as he attempts to return for the June 1 final.
Recovering from an ankle ligament injury, Kane missed both legs of Tottenham's semifinal, but could be training with a ball again by next weekend.
Of the players who celebrated so emotionally in Amsterdam, Trippier, Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose, Fernando Llorente and Victor Wanyama have all been linked with summer exits. Pochettino also put his own future back on the agenda by suggesting he could go if Spurs win the Champions League.
Asked whether the threat of this group of players being split up has acted as an incentive to go out on the highest of highs, Rose said: "I keep seeing my name, that I'm being sold. So if that's the case and it's going to be my last game for Tottenham against Liverpool, I'm hoping to go out with a bang."
Real Madrid officials will not have to travel far to watch how Eriksen performs on the kind of stage they are so accustomed to, with the final being played inside Atletico's Wanda Metropolitano.
And the possibility of signing Alderweireld for just £25m because of a clause in his contract is becoming even more appealing.
Despite struggling to reproduce his form from last summer, Trippier still has admirers from the World Cup and the impact Llorente made from the substitutes' bench against Ajax could give the 34-year-old more options this summer.
But Rose has stressed the personal circumstances of Spurs' players will be put to one side. "It's a Champions League final, so individual situations have to take a back seat," Rose said. "We realise we have a chance to make history.
"If you go back to the Barcelona game, everyone wrote us off. Everyone wrote us off against City, everyone wrote us off last week after the first leg against Ajax and now we find ourselves in the final. So we have to keep believing and we will see where it takes us."
Tottenham's players will share an estimated £5m bonus if they win the Champions League and Rose suggested that Pochettino had promised them "something special" if they can beat Liverpool.
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