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Programme: Neil Sullivan

Posted on 30 October 2001  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Neil Sullivan enjoys nothing more during our games than spending the 90 minutes watching his team-mates turning on the style at the other end of the pitch.

Not for Neil a match where he’s called into action time and again. He knows that if he’s quiet, the team are playing well and defending solidly and that’s exactly what he wants to see.

Neil has certainly had his way at times this season already, particularly in our last game here against Derby County and during the first half at Newcastle United on Sunday. Despite a muddy goalmouth at St James’ Park, Sully came into the dressing room at half-time with his kit still in pristine condition!

"It’s always nice when I get a quiet afternoon," says Neil. "I prefer to have nothing to do, the quieter I am, the better the team is doing so I’d rather it was like that to be honest. Newcastle put us under pressure in the second half, but we defended well, very well.

"That was a very good result and an excellent performance as well," he continues. "When you go away to places like St James’ Park, you know they are going to come at you right from the start and the crowd are going to be behind them, but we started the better and scored the two goals early on and took it from there.

"We set out to be positive, to go forward and win the game. The last thing we said before we went out was to make sure we didn’t concede an early goal, because of the start they were likely to make, but our own start nullified that.

"The game was almost two performances, we went forward well with excellent movement in the first half and when we had to dig in and defend after the interval, we did."

Neil feels we’ve made a satisfactory start to the new campaign and that we are improving game by game.

"Earlier in the season, we controlled games but through one thing or another, they haven’t gone our way and we’ve not picked up the points," he says. "Now though, we’ve had three or four excellent performances on the spin, so things are going in the right direction and we have to carry it on."

The one major disappointment for Sully this season has been Scotland’s failure to qualify for next summer’s World Cup and he is naturally upset at having to sit out football’s big festival in Japan and South Korea.

"We are all very disappointed," he reveals. "When you look at our qualifying campaign, it was the two games against Belgium that let us down.

"We were two-nil up against 10 men at home and we let that lead slip, and then when we went over there we knew what we had to do, but the performance wasn’t good enough in the end.

"You want to be involved in the major championships and it’s a big disappointment for everyone. But who knows, it’s a fresh start for someone as manager of the team now, we’ll wait and see who they appoint."

As a member of the so-called ‘goalkeepers union’ Neil has been looking on with interest at two of his fellow members who have made the headlines recently, for very different reasons.

Peter Schmeichel was in the news after scoring for Aston Villa in their game against Everton last weekend, while Manchester United’s Fabien Barthez was blamed for their Champions’ League defeat to Deportivo La Coruna after two uncharacteristic errors.

Neil comments: "It’s not the first time Peter has scored and I’m sure it won’t be the last, we shouldn’t be surprised anymore! It’s a last throw of the dice and he’s done it on a number of occasions with great success.

"I’ve never scored, but I’ve been up on a couple of occasions and it’s a long way back! I remember going up for a corner playing for Wimbledon and we scored off it, because I caused mayhem in the box.

"As for Barthez, you won’t change him that’s the way he plays. He takes chances and gets away with a lot, that’s his character and if he didn’t do that he wouldn’t be the goalkeeper he is. Sometimes you have to accept that you will make mistakes, he was just unfortunate it was in such a big game. He’ll come back, he’s a great keeper."

So to today’s game and it’s one that Neil believes we are approaching in very confident mood. After recent performances, we go into the match looking to take maximum points, but Neil says that’s not a reflection on the opposition.

"The way we’re playing at the moment, we’re confident of getting the three points regardless of the opposition," he says. "It’s about how we perform and how we prepare. I’m sure it will be a good game and hopefully we’ll get the victory.”