JULY 28, 2011
It doesn't seem two minutes ago that we were first back for pre-season training, doing all those laps around Spurs Lodge but all of a sudden we're back from South Africa and Everton doesn't seem too far away!
The lads worked hard in South Africa and that's really what pre-season is all about. The matches were good as well. We didn't play as well as we would have liked in the first two against Chiefs and then Pirates, but speaking to people out there, the Vodacom Challenge final is one of the big games of their season, so it was great to turn it around against Pirates and win 3-0.
Rafa ended up scoring two free-kicks in two games - I just hope he's not wasting them! We need them for the Premier League!
Away from the football, we had a number of events in South Africa. For me personally, it was great to meet Aubrey again (pictured above).
Aubrey is the young lad I sponsor as part of our commitment to the SOS Children's Village in Rustenburg. I met him last year when I went out to the World Cup with England and a year on, I met him again before the final in Johannesburg. He's certainly grown up in that year and he seems happy, that's the main thing.
There were a number of SOS kids from the Tottenham Hotspur House at the final and it was great to see them.
The day before the final we travelled to a school (St David's Maritz, below) in Johannesburg for a big coaching clinic. All the lads went and coached different groups. Again, there are some technically-gifted kids out there, we saw that when we played the Chiefs and Pirates. They have so much enthusiasm for the game, they love it and that's what football's all about. We all had fun.
The lads were all together day-in, day-out, hour after hour and there were a few light-hearted moments here and there. The best was earlier in the tour when we stayed at a hotel on a ranch. A couple of the lads thought it would be funny to hire animal costumes and try to play a few pranks by hiding in the bushes in the dark in the grounds of the hotel. A few of the lads got caught out as this team-mate in a gorilla suit came running after them!! I'm sure a couple of lads were wondering 'is that a real gorilla?' and started walking a bit quicker, then run away! It was a good bit of banter that night.
Moving on, we now have a couple of pre-season friendlies in quick succession. The first is at Leyton Orient on Friday night and then Brighton on Saturday. We'll wait and see what the manager decides to do with the two fixtures, he might start looking at playing us for 90 minutes as we've got Athletic Bilbao next weekend and then we're into it.
As I said, it seems amazing that it's just over two weeks until the start of the season but Everton is on the horizon and that's what we're all focusing on.
Thanks for all your questions - send them to me at this email address - firstname.lastname@example.org - I've just answered a batch and they will appear in the next Dawson's Diary in the next few days.
Until then, all the best!