Tottenham's Pape Matar Sarr spoke exclusively to Sky Sports

A primary tenure within the Premier League. A North London residence derby towards Arsenal. A primary within the Champions League. A visit to San Siro to face AC Milan…

“Not the best begin, is it?” says a smiling Pope Matar Sarr sky sports activities on the Tottenham coaching floor, brimming with the boldness of somebody older and extra skilled than his modest age of 20.

However let’s not overlook that this younger midfielder has already achieved rather a lot in his profession, particularly within the final 12 months. African Cup of Nations champion with Senegal and a World Cup marketing campaign beneath his belt – alongside his first outings within the Tottenham first workforce.

However amongst these ups, there have been downs. Sarr admits final 12 months’s World Cup in Qatar did not go as he wished, having made simply two substitute appearances which totaled 60 minutes of event soccer. “I went there with increased ambitions than I got here again with,” he says.

Sarr has simply performed twice within the World Cup in Qatar

There has additionally been disappointment at membership degree. Sarr joined his Tottenham team-mates for the primary time final summer time, having spent his first 12 months beneath contract on the membership on mortgage at former membership FC Metz.

However he needed to wait even longer for his first-team arc. His first outing was a ten-minute look on New Yr’s Day. He was solely trusted for his first begin within the FA Cup win over Portsmouth six days later. Tough for a younger participant who has tailored to a brand new nation, a brand new language and a brand new tradition.

Requested why his Spurs arc got here later than he anticipated, Sarr replied: “It is a workforce. We’ve 5 central midfielders on this workforce and the coach has to make his choices.

“I waited my flip as a result of the season is lengthy. I labored day by day to know when the coach wants me and to verify I’ve what is required, so when the coach m name, I do not disappoint.

Tottenham's Pape Sarr in action for Spurs against AC Milan
Sarr made his Champions League debut for Spurs towards AC Milan

“At first it wasn’t simple as a result of I used to be from France and it was tough for me to know and talk with individuals on the pitch once I felt prefer it.

“The others wished me to adapt to the workforce, however I did not converse a lot English. It was a bit tough however now I really feel good on this workforce.”

His sudden arrival and lack of World Cup minutes meant that Sarr nearly got here out of nowhere on the Premier League stage. The participant describes these two defining moments towards Arsenal and AC Milan as “valuable” in his profession.


However with the entire world watching these two performances, maybe the individual closest to him avoided doing so: his personal mom – who hardly ever watches his matches out of sheer nervousness.

“She’s all the time been like that,” he laughs. “She likes soccer, however I perceive why she would not like watching me. It is onerous to see your son enjoying video games with all this stress, not figuring out if I’ll do properly or not.

“However I’ve rather a lot to thank her for, she’s been very supportive – particularly since I first joined right here. When it was tough initially of the season, she referred to as me on a regular basis and mentioned to me, ‘Don’ do not surrender, you may get there. Simply preserve working.

“She’s somebody who pushed me rather a lot and I did not surrender right here and I preserve working. And every thing is beginning to repay now and it is because of her.”

Sarr credited much of his acclimatization at Tottenham to Heung-Min Son
Sarr credited a lot of his acclimatization at Tottenham to Heung-Min Son

There was one other constructive affect on his early profession at Tottenham in Heung-Min Son, who was a figurehead on the coaching floor for the younger midfielder.

“He is good, so good,” Sarr says of the South Korea worldwide. “Even when I say one thing flawed [in English] he tries to know to place me comfy.

“For the reason that first day I met him, we acquired alongside. We’ve a great friendship, he helps me rather a lot and provides recommendation on and off the pitch. I actually admire that and that is the certainly one of my favorites within the workforce.”

Accidents, Assists, and Alternatives

The acclimatization interval is now over for Sarr – now what?

Nicely, the midfielder helps his workforce overcome an damage disaster in central midfield. Rodrigo Bentancur is out till November with a critical knee damage, whereas Yves Bissouma underwent ankle surgical procedure earlier this month.

Sarr and midfielder Oliver Skipp impressed the Spurs teaching workers throughout their absences alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – however a blow to captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris added additional issues.

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“Truthfully, it was onerous for the workforce,” mentioned Sarr. “Sure, it gave me a chance, we want [Bentancur] and Bissouma so we needed to experiment.

“They’re skilled and golden gamers and we want them for the assistance of the workforce, the coach and the membership. We’re with out those that are injured however I’m certain they may come again rapidly and stronger.”

However there has additionally been the absence of supervisor Antonio Conte as he recuperates in Italy after gallbladder surgical procedure. Assistant coach Cristian Stellini changed the Italian coach and Sarr allayed fears there had been an excessive amount of change within the dugout.

Requested how Stellini compares to Conte, Sarr explains: “There are usually not too many variations as a result of they’ve been working collectively for a very long time. For me, there isn’t a distinction in the way in which they work as a result of what are the identical strategies.

“We’re working properly and we have now a well-functioning teaching workers, whether or not it is [Conte] is there or not.

“It is as typical, the group continues to work in the identical dynamic and we wish to end as excessive as attainable.”

Subsequent up for Spurs is one other London derby towards Chelsea. The 2 sides have suffered inconsistent ends in latest weeks, however Tottenham sit fourth, with Chelsea 11 factors behind in tenth.

“It is the derby. For me, in video games like these, it isn’t about performances however about profitable,” defined Sarr.

“Chelsea are having just a few difficulties for the time being, however that does not imply they don’t seem to be a great workforce. We are going to attempt to take them on all of the pitch and put together properly to go and win.

“We’ve to construct up a profitable streak as a result of we have had instances the place we have gained two or three after which misplaced or drawn them. So if we wish to keep on the prime of the desk, we have now to win the utmost quantity video games.”

Sunday February 26 12:30 p.m.

Kick off 1:30 p.m.

Origins and follow-up of Mane’s journey

Sarr’s rise from the unknown to the higher echelons of the sport has been brutal – however taking a look at his origins, it is no shock to see him find yourself the place he’s.

The midfielder grew up within the Thiès area, nestled close to the Senegalese capital Dakar and often called a hotspot for African soccer.

Thies is accountable for the expansion of Sadio Mane, Sarr and different Senegalese starlets, together with Strasbourg prime scorer Habib Diallo.

Comparisons between Sarr and Mane might be prolonged to them each enjoying for the highest academy in Dakar Génération Foot, then Metz in Ligue 1 after which the Premier League. Sarr admits the previous Liverpool winger’s profession is a ‘base to work from’.

Sarr’s growth, nonetheless, started sooner than the academy. “I grew up in Thiès in a household of footballers,” he says. “Everybody in my household performed. It was like the entire world was in love with soccer.

“On the one hand it isn’t simple to get noticed, however then once more it’s – as a result of there are plenty of coaches taking a look at you from an early age and that may solely drive a great path to soccer. It helped me to develop rapidly.”

Sarr (left) aims to be among the best in the world
Sarr (left) goals to be among the many greatest on this planet

And what’s the participant’s dream now, given that he’s now enjoying in a Premier League workforce?

“My dream is every thing!” exclaims an enthusiastic Sarr. “Once I say every thing, I imply the Champions League, the World Cup, the Africa Cup of Nations – I’ve gained that one earlier than however I wish to do it once more for Senegal.

“African and European balon d’or too, the prize!

Watch Tottenham vs Chelsea reside on Sky Sports activities Premier League this nice sunday from 12:30 p.m.; kick off 1:30 p.m.

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By moh

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