The Buenos Aires-born defender afforded his compatriot a warm embrace when they caught up at Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo on Friday, where Mauricio guided us to a 6-1 victory over Inter, the Italian club at which Zanetti spent almost two decades as a player before hanging up his boots in 2014.
Now serving the Serie A outfit as a vice-president, Zanetti was full of praise for the work his former international team-mate is doing at White Hart Lane.
“I have known Mauricio since the age of 15 and so it’s a pleasure to see him again – we share thoughts about Argentina when we are together,” said Zanetti, 42, who played alongside Mauricio in the Argentina national team between 1999 and 2002.
“He was a very solid defender, a tough defender and I think that he has developed everything in his way of playing football and reading football. He can bring that to the pitch to help his team and I believe he is doing very well.
“The work he is doing at Tottenham seems to be a great job. I think his team always takes the initiative in their matches and I like watching the way Spurs play.
“It doesn’t surprise me with the way Mauricio’s career is going because he is a very intelligent coach who is very capable and has a lot of passion. He achieves things with much hard work.
“As a manager, firstly in Spain and now in England, he’s doing great.”
Zanetti’s own international career spanned 17 years between 1994 and 2011 and saw him play at the FIFA World Cups of 1998 and 2002 as well as five instalments of the Copa America, the Olympic Games of 1996 and the Confederations Cup in 2005.
These days, Erik Lamela often features for Argentina and Inter’s famed ‘Il Capitano’ has been impressed with the progress of our attacking midfielder.
The 24-year-old, who faced Zanetti during his time at Roma between 2011 and 2013, enjoyed a tremendous season in our colours last term and Zanetti feels there’s still more to come from the man who started his career back in his homeland with River Plate.
“He has impressed in a huge competition (the Premier League) and he is still a young player,” said Zanetti. “In Argentina, you could see that he had many qualities and I think that his experiences in the Premier League will do him good as he continues growing as a player.”
Last week’s victory over Inter was the latest in a string of memorable matches we’ve enjoyed against the Milan giants.
Zanetti played in both legs of our Europa League tie in March, 2013, which we edged on away goals after a 4-4 aggregate draw.
But it’s the epic Champions League meetings we had in late 2010 that Zanetti remembers most – not least Inter’s 4-3 victory at the San Siro in which he scored the opener as the Italians surged into a four-goal lead, only for an incredible Gareth Bale hat-trick to reduce the arrears.
“Yes, I remember that!” smiled Zanetti. “From the start it was a fantastic match. I was lucky to score a goal but after that we saw an incredible Gareth Bale performance.
“We won 4-3 and it was a great game – I think it was one of the best matches in the Champions League.”