The Big Interview - Ryan Mason
24 February 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
If a week is a long time in football, try 10 weeks.
Ryan Mason spent that long on the sidelines as he recovered from an ankle injury sustained against Chelsea on November 29.
However, as a Spurs fan and Academy graduate, Ryan was delighted with what he saw in that time - 10 wins and three draws in 16 games.
And if it was tough being out, his first start on returning proved a night he'll never forget as he captained the team for the first time against Fiorentina in Florence last week.
As we prepare for the second leg against the Italians back at the Lane, we asked Ryan for his thoughts on his time out, captaining the team and the return against Fiorentina...
Fiorentina was your first start since November 29 and you missed 16 games in that time - what did you make of the team's performances when you were out?
Ryan: "It’s great to be involved with this squad. I’m a fan, I’ve supported the team and what the squad has been doing has been fantastic. It’s not over yet though. We’ve some massive, crucial games ahead and if we keep the same attitude and level of performance you never know what could happen. At the same time, we’re taking it a game at a time and looking forward to the next one. You can see the team has grown and we've all developed as individuals. Everyone is excited and wants to play."
I suppose the development of the team can almost be underlined this way - you and Nabil Bentaleb were mainstays in midfield last season but this time, you've both been injured, yet we've seen someone like Eric Dier do so well and the performances of Dele Alli in midfield as well...
Ryan: "That's right, myself and Nabs have probably had six months out between us, a long time, and the team has done brilliantly. It’s all healthy in terms of competition for places and now myself and Nabil are available, it will only help us as players as we’re having to fight for places. I’m excited to come back into a winning team - it’s easier than a team that’s struggling. Everyone is enjoying it at the moment."
As a Spurs fan and Academy graduate, how did it feel to pull on the captain's armband in the first leg against Fiorentina?
Ryan: "I was so excited to play because I’d spent a long time out and the gaffer pulled me to one side and said ‘are you ready to captain the side?’ and obviously it was a dream. It’s a cliché, but it’s another dream ticked off my list."
Below: Ryan talks to Spurs TV after the first leg in Florence
Next up is the second leg of the Europa League Round of 32 tie against Fiorentina - how do you see the tie as a whole after we picked up a 1-1 draw in Florence?
Ryan: "I think we have the advantage because they have to come here and score an away goal. Last year when we played them it was the same for us when we travelled to Florence for the second leg (having drawn 1-1 in the first leg at home) and that away goal is crucial. They will have to open up and come at us at some point so hopefully we can pick them off like they did to us last year."
Is it fair to say that Fiorentina under Paulo Sousa are not a 'typical' Italian team in terms of playing style?
Ryan: "I've got to say it was a very enjoyable game to play in! They got the better of us in the last 20 minutes but it was a pure footballing game, they had similar tactics to us and always looked to play out from the back. I’m sure it will be the same at the Lane, an exciting, open game."
How important is the Europa League?
Ryan: "You can see how committed we are to the competition with the team the gaffer played in Florence. He’s made three or four changes at times and the players are always eager to impress. We want to progress in these competitions and we’re a young team, so we want to experience the biggest games possible, semi-finals, finals, they are huge. We reached the Capital One Cup Final last season and perhaps the occasion got us to a little and we were undone by Chelsea’s experience on the day. I said at the time that was an invaluable experience and if we get in that situation again, we’ll have learned from it. Hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later."