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Media view - Henry Winter of The Times on Lane memories and United

Posted on 13 May 2017  - 15:15

Henry Winter, highly-respected, award-winning Chief Football Writer at The Times, shares his memories of White Hart Lane ahead of Sunday's finale against Manchester United before turning his attention to Jose Mourinho's men and the Spurs class of 2016-17...

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Henry Winter
Chief Football Writer, The Times

henry_winter250x300You will take your seat in the Press Box for the final time at White Hart Lane on Sunday, what are your memories of our famous old stadium?
Henry: "I love ‘the game is about glory’ and I love seeing the former players there. I once went to see Alan Mullery at the Lane. You can get a bit blasé in this job with the places you go to and the people you meet but I was genuinely speechless standing there seeing Pat Jennings, Darren Anderton all so smartly dressed in their club suits. It was like stepping into a dream Panini sticker book with all these greats from the past! Just to see them all was wonderful and I always respect clubs who respect their past and appreciate how much their fans love seeing the greats.

"That was special but it comes down to those great nights under the lights, sitting in the Press Box, which is brilliant, particularly where we sat occasionally when I was at the Telegraph and the Times right at the end so you can look over into the tunnel, I love seeing the faces close up and the determination of the individuals coming out, whether it’s Harry Kane ready to come out or Dele Alli bouncing up and down almost like a boxer about to step into the ring and punish the opponent.

Below: Gareth Bale in full flow against Inter Milan

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"I’ve many memories. Kane against Arsenal in the north London derby, I thought he was unplayable. I’m sure everyone is the same, the ‘taxi for Maicon’ game (against Inter Milan, Champions League, 2010), the Gareth Bale night, which is one of those you love as a football fan because it’s so exhilarating and as a journalist, because you know the reaction it’s going to get from the desk and from readers. It was one of those performances people still talk about now, Bale at his best. There are many special memories, but it’s that one for me. It’s an exhilarating place to be with Gareth Bale, Harry Kane, Jurgen Klinsmann and all the attacking players we’ve seen down the years, Teddy Sheringham and before that, Gary Lineker and Clive Allen."

Below: Jose Mourinho

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Onto the match itself, what have you made of Manchester United at the moment?
Henry: "Jose Mourinho is completely focused on the Europa League at the moment (United play Ajax in the final on May 24), but there are still good players there like Michael Carrick, Marcus Rashford - who is probably in the top five of most exciting players in Europe - Jesse Lingaard scores goals in big games for club and country, Eric Bailly, if he’s fit, is one of the best central defenders in the world, De Gea in goal and the kid Axel Tuanzebe who played at Arsenal, he was terrific up against Alexis Sanchez. So write Manchester United off at your peril and write Jose Mourinho off at your peril. He is the master at getting tactics right for these big games and showed it against Chelsea at Old Trafford (2-0 win) and against Liverpool at Anfield (0-0 draw). I just think there will be an emotional element for Spurs with young players who will want to go out and give everything."

Finally, what have you made of Spurs this season?
Henry: "I wasn’t at the West Ham game but I’ve been amazed by some of the criticism. Seriously, this is one of the most attractive teams to watch in this country, coming on the back of a tournament where England were poor and everyone was saying ‘where are the good young English players?’ well hang on a second, Kieran Trippier has come through, Walker and Rose are terrific, they could walk into any team in Europe, Dele Alli and Harry Kane have been marvellous.

Below: Heung-Min Son celebrates in typical handshake fashion with Dele Alli

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"There is also Christian Eriksen, he’s been fantastic, Heung-Min Son has moved up a gear this season. I always wondered if he’d hurt teams but he’s been terrific. The thing I like about Son - apart from all the complicated handshakes, which I think are brilliant, I’ve been in the office and The Times is a fairly serious newspaper, but there was a 20-minute discussion on the desk when I was there once where they had all his different handshakes with all the different players, and they were debating what they meant, I love things like that – is that he plays with a smile on his face. He looks like he enjoys what he’s doing. There are good people in that dressing room. One thing I will also say is that at times when a team has a bad result, as a journalist, it’s difficult to find a player who will front up, and Eric Dier always does and journalists don’t forget that."