Maurice Pochettino says he will never forget Ryan Mason's contribution to kickstarting his tenure at Tottenham Hotspur and revealed he visited the Hull City midfielder in hospital as the player recovers from the fractured skull suffered at Chelsea on Sunday.
Pochettino described Mason, who came through the youth ranks at Tottenham before moving to Hull last summer in a £10 million deal, as "a very special player and a very special person", and one moment, in particular, has stayed with the manager. Pochettino was in his early weeks at Tottenham in September 2014 when his team hosted Nottingham Forest in the League Cup, on the back of four matches without a win. The alarm bells were ringing when Jorge Grant put Forest in front and it was when Pochettino turned to Mason for the first time.
He took just seven minutes to make his mark, scoring the equaliser from distance, and he had a hand in the team's second goal, scored by Roberto Soldado. Tottenham would win 3-1. Mason changed the whole atmosphere of the occasion and it was one that Pochettino can reflect upon as a turning point. "It was special," Pochettino said of the Forest match. "Ryan had played in Sunderland with the under-21s on the Monday – very, very late. We called [the academy manager] John McDermott after the game and John said Ryan had been fantastic.
“I said he would train with us on the Tuesday morning and, after training, I said he would be on the bench against Forest. The game was difficult and at 1-0 down, with his first touch of the ball, he scored an unbelievable goal. For me, and my present today, Ryan helped us a lot.”
Pochettino and his Tottenham squad watched Hull's game at Chelsea from Barcelona, where they were enjoying a warm-weather training break and they were horrified when Mason suffered the injury in a sickening clash of heads with Gary Cahill. Mason was taken to St Mary's hospital in west London, where he underwent surgery on Sunday night.
Pochettino said the squad had sent Mason a video message and that he, his assistant Jesús Pérez and McDermott went to visit him in St Mary’s on Wednesday afternoon.
“From day one, when we arrived at Tottenham, we saw Ryan as a player with big talent but who had had a bit of bad luck in his career [with injuries],” Pochettino said. “It was our challenge to provide him with the tools to be a first-team player. I think we were right to trust in him. It was difficult to let him go to Hull but that is football. We have split now but the love and emotion – always, you keep that inside.”
Pochettino reported that Harry Kane, Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose would not play at home against Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup on Saturday because of minor knocks but he was confident the trio would be back for Tuesday's league fixture at Sunderland.
He also said that he did not envisage any additions to his squad before next Tuesday’s transfer deadline. “It’s not impossible [to sign a player] – 1 per cent maybe – but I don’t believe we will.” Guardian service