He insisted the squad had moved on from the disappointment of the end of the 2015-16 campaign and his own Euro 2016 heartbreak as captain of France, where they’d lost the final on home soil to Portugal.
“We are making a stronger Club and we need to improve, all of us, to make this Club bigger and step by step, we will arrive where we want to be,” he said.
A record-breaking season for the Premier League era followed – most wins (26), fewest defeats (4), most goals scored (86), fewest conceded (26), best goal difference (+60), most points (86) and best finish (runners-up).
So 12 months on, here we are again with the skipper at Hotspur Way.
How did Hugo feel this time around? “It’s an exciting time,” he said. “It’s important to carry on with the same intensity, the same philosophy and continuity of last season. The way we finished the season was fantastic and we will try to start the season with the same energy.
“We are ready in our minds and in our bodies and we will try to go as far as possible.”
Below: Hugo at Hotspur Way
You’ve been at the Club five years now, so have Jan and Mousa, eight players have over 100 appearances for us, another four are on 80-plus – how important is that for the squad?
Hugo: “The manager has been in place for three years now, a lot of players have been at the club for a lot of years and that’s something important for the team and for the squad. It’s one of our basics and one of our strengths. We know each other so well and then if you add the talent we have in the squad, it’s a good mix. The experiences of the last two seasons are important too, to learn from those experiences and then to be as competitive as usual. It’s an exciting time for Tottenham and we need to push on. We’ll see what happens.”
Does that mean the players care more about the Club?
Hugo: “Yes, it’s a good thing for us and for the fans as well. We’ve created something special inside this building (Hotspur Way, our training HQ). There is a philosophy of work, a real identity and those are the things the fans want to see and step by step, we’re reaching the potential we had at the beginning of this story. All of our minds are ready to compete and to step up again and try to make that gap even smaller between the best team and ourselves.”
Below: Hugo leads the goalkeepers out for training this week
How have you changed in those five years?
Hugo: “As a man and as a goalkeeper I really enjoy my time here, inside this building, outside this building, my family too. It’s true the most important thing for me is to feel competitive and to be ready for new challenges both in front of me and the team and that is the way I think, the way I take life. I will bring all my energy and strength to help this team again.”
You mentioned the fans, how important is that relationship?
Hugo: “The connection between the players and the fans is so important. It’s part of the identity of the club. We can feel that in the last few years. There is something new with Wembley for one season, a transition until we get to the new stadium, and we will deal with that. We are ready. The last performance against Juventus means we are capable of playing at a high level at Wembley.”
Below: Hugo on duty against Juventus at Wembley
We go to Newcastle for our Premier League opener on Sunday. What were your thoughts when that fixture was announced back in June?
Hugo: “Even if it belongs in the past, the last time we played at Newcastle is not a good memory (a 5-1 loss in May 2016 that cost us second place). It’s part of the past and we are looking forward. Our minds will be ready to compete from the first second of this game.”
A lot of players involved that day are determined to put it right...
Hugo: “I can remember how gutted we felt after this game. We felt so responsible for this defeat. It belongs to the past, maybe it belongs to the whole process to get to this level. If it can help us on Sunday, why not? But I don’t think we need this as motivation. Our motivation has to be from the changing room, from our ambition and we are looking up. We want to do well for ourselves, the club, the fans and the whole Spurs community.”