How Pau Lopez bounced back...
12 October 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
Pau Lopez is seen as one of the most promising Spanish goalkeepers out there - but he might have been lost to the game as a youngster.
Falling a little out of love with the game at the age of 10, Pau dropped football and elected to play basketball at the Sant Gregori club near Girona. Basketball is popular in Spain and like many clubs, Sant Gregori housed both sports.
"I was a goalkeeper but at that moment, I wasn’t enjoying it," explained Pau.
"My friends all played basketball so I decided to play with them. In Spain, basketball is the second most popular sport. There are a lot of teams in Spain (Barcelona, Real Madrid have teams in the top league, Liga Endesa) and many people like to play and to watch basketball.
"I was 10 at the time. When you are young, you only want to be happy and stay with your friends and this is what they were doing."
Below: Pau in training at Hotspur Way
So what changed? In the end, a father's influence made all the difference.
"My father (Ignasi) said to me one day ‘why don’t you go to Girona and try to play football again’," said Pau.
"I guess it was lucky for me. I did that and now, here I am. In the end, I only played basketball for a year or less but when you are young you only want to enjoy your sport.
"My dad is the person who always stayed with me, spoke to me, said ‘you have to try to be a goalkeeper, you can do it’. Every week he came to the stadium with my mum and my little brother. He enjoys watching me. He is happy if I’m happy."
The rest is history, as they say. Pau impressed as a youngster at Girona and joined Espanyol's youth set-up in 2007. He rose through the ranks at the La Liga side and has 48 appearances under his belt at the age of 21, having made his debut in 2014.
He caught the eye of Mauricio Pochettino and goalkeeping coach Toni Jimenez when the pair were at Espanyol and now all three are reunited again at Spurs, with Pau joining us for a season-long loan in August.
Below: Pau's first interview after joining the Club
"Mauricio made everything possible, if he wasn’t here, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to play here," said Pau. "He trusted me when I was a youth player at Espanyol. I’m very grateful to him.
"I love it here, the training, life here is good. Even the weather is good, not that it's a problem for me!"
You could say he's jumping through hoops...