A nation awaits Hugo. Six years after being announced as hosts, the captain will finally lead his team out in the first match against Romania at the Stade de France on Friday.
It's a moment Hugo has thought about often, and the fact he'll get to experience it as one of the best goalkeepers in the world will be of considerable pride to Michel, our number two goalkeeper who pushes him to the limit alongside coach Toni Jimenez and fellow goalkeepers Luke McGee and Tom Glover every day of the week.
What is it like to be a number two goalkeeper? How do you continue to push yourself day after day, week after week, knowing you are unlikely to put on the gloves on matchday?
It's a unique role in football and in this special feature, Michel tells us what drives him and Hugo outlines why Michel's mentality is so important within the team and squad ethic at Spurs.
'We are strong together'
Michel on his role at Spurs...
"It’s a different role but with the experience and mentality I have, I think I’m a good professional and important for Hugo and the other lads as well. We have a young team, we talk a lot, we have a relaxed vibe in the team and that’s as important as the guys who are playing. The balance is right in the squad and that’s why I feel so involved, even though I haven’t played as much. I feel that I’m important as well."
Michel on how he copes with being number two...
"First of all you look at your main competitor for the position and that’s Hugo and I can’t say one bad word about him. It’s not like ‘he didn’t do this, he didn’t do that’ because he’s amazing. I think one of the reasons for that is the way we all work together with Toni Jimenez and that’s helped take him to another level."
Below: Michel with Luke McGee and coach Toni Jimenez
'I'm ready to play'
Michel on always being ready if needed...
"You see the way we train and I work hard every day just to be ready. That’s how I am. I'm a professional. The situation is different now for me but in many ways, I do what I always have done. That’s a strength, I think. You need to be ready. If you know how we work and how we are with Toni, Hugo, Luke (McGee) and Tom (Glover), we are strong together.
Michel on Hugo, and his work with Toni Jimenez...
"I have a strong relationship with Hugo and that counts a lot as well for me. It also makes it easier. We work so well. I’ve learned so much in the last couple of seasons in how we work with Toni, it’s been unbelievable and you can see that on the pitch. That’s something I enjoy as well. I know it sounds crazy. I’m 33 in a few months and you think differently. I still feel very good, fit and I’m really enjoying my time here. Toni works us hard and that’s what I need as well, someone who is right on top of you all the time, every day, even if you are not playing as much. He loves to bring you to a certain level. I love that and our strength as a goalkeeping unit is the way we work together."
'A great man, a great goalkeeper'
Hugo on Michel...
"To be second goalkeeper is a difficult job because you need to be consistent in the training sessions and to have the right mentality. Michel is unbelievable. He’s always pushing me every day and that helps me a lot in terms of my performance and confidence. He’s a great mate and very important in this team.
"Perhaps people from the outside are focused on the starting 11 but to be a team is not just about 12 or 13 players, it’s about a squad. Everyone is important. Michel has a big importance in this squad and I’m very pleased to be his mate. He’s a great goalkeeper. It’s not easy because when he plays he needs to perform well and that’s the thing he’s doing so well. That shows his commitment, that he’s responsible and he’s very important for the team. He’s a great man, a great goalkeeper and he brings a lot of positive energy to this squad."