Liverpool vs Tottenham: Which players travelled furthest on international duty? – SkySports

Liverpool vs Tottenham: Which players travelled furthest on international duty? - SkySports

Ive never seen anything like the new Tottenham stadium… Daniel Levy is redefining the way you watch footb

Manchester City and Liverpool are battling it out for the Premier League title and the Blues have a difficult April

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Tottenhams on-pitch announcer and talkSPORT 2 host, Paul Coyte, reflects on a memorable day at the new White Hart Lane

Not presenting Sportsday on talkSPORT 2 (Monday to Friday, 6am-10am, if youre wondering) but as the on-pitch announcer at Tottenham.

I was there in the mix with the players, staff and fans for the first match on Sunday, and it was easily one of the best days of my life.

In London, football stadiums arent the oddities they are elsewhere. As a general rule, the wealthier the area, the less objectionable it is to see vast sums of money spent on stadia. In some places, a football ground actually fits its environment. Craven Cottage suits the local mood in that strange way. Selhurst Park likely wont when its redeveloped but, for now, the way it shapes in to its communitys contours feels perfect. Goodison Park is wonderful, although soon to be lost, and Turf Moor is tonally right, as well as offering that endless view out across Lancashire.

I made the last announcement at the old White Hart Lane, just before they tore the old place down – as the last rendition of Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur was playing, I had tears in my eyes.

The stadium really is a work of art. On Sunday, the late morning sunshine glints off the exterior glass and even by 11am there are dozens of fans stood at its base. A couple drift around the perimeter, but most just stand and stare upwards. Up close, its enormous. Part of its construction was completed while White Hart Lane was still standing and even at an early stage its skeletal structure had started to dwarf the existing ground. You come prepared, then, but the scale and the architectural flourishes still take your breath away.

But the sadness of seeing the stands and pitch which has graced the likes of Jimmy Greaves, Danny Blanchflower, Glenn Hoddle and Paul Gascoigne torn up, has gone.

The detail is striking. The re-imagined Park Lane is a headline feature, of course, but this is a stadium with a clear and personal identity. A bigger ground used to mean just that: packing up and moving to an out-of-town site which could literally accommodate more people. Often, the price of that new home was the total reduction of any sense of belonging. A relocated statue here or there, offered in recompense, but – generally – many of the new-builds are startlingly bland and distinguishable only by seat colour.

The last thing I did before leaving old White Hart Lane was take a selfie with Mauricio Pochettino in the centre of the pitch.

Its a strange dynamic. White Hart Lane never created this contrast in quite the same way, because it wasnt such an obvious representation of disparity. Its replacement absolutely is, though, meaning that one of the challenges for Tottenham now – having so overwhelmingly succeeded in the physical delivery – is to be the big brother here. To not just fulfil their obligations with Haringey Council, but to somehow help their surrounding community match their own recent rise.

We took selfie no.2 after I interviewed him at half-time of Spurs Under-18s’ clash against Southampton.

He doesnt want to be recorded and he doesnt want me to use his real name, but hes originally from Africa and hes been cutting hair on Tottenham High Road for 16 years now. Outside, Spurs fans are beginning to flow down from Seven Sisters, eyes fixed way ahead. Their new stadium now dominates the local horizon in a way that its predecessor never did. Floodlight glare used to give it away at night, but during the day it refused to reveal itself until the last few hundred yards.

The gaffer absolutely loves the new ground. He is seriously excited – he loves it! His face had a look of sheer pride.

Maybe its relief. The vivid symbols help, the cockerel on the roof has been presented beautifully, as does the decorative facia in the concourse. Together, they offer the reassurance that every fan needs when they step into a new building. Great attention to detail has been paid. Yes, Spurs have spent a lot of time on their corporate areas and have spared no expense on their press facilities either, but the common parts of the ground show the same care.

Daniel Levy is redefining the way you watch football. Instead of arriving at five to three and leaving at ten to five, Spurs want people to be around early and stay late.

These issues arent for everyone. Fine. No shaming, no judgement. Every supporter wants something different from their club and many of those ambitions exist entirely on the pitch itself. But what a chance Tottenham have here. Theyve spent the last decade straightening their own backs and what a legacy of this project it would be if, over the coming decades, they could stand tall over this part of the world figuratively, as well as literally.

There was a DJ playing and the place was rammed and unbelievably packed. Spurs legend Micky Hazard even started singing at one point!

Inside, its better than could ever have been expected. Each new stadium brings a fresh round of concerns about modern football, ticket pricing and corporate creep, and Tottenhams new ground wont quell any of them. Beneath the newly-laid pitch, NFL gridiron lurks. If people werent aware of that before, then after visiting the club shop they will be: a small corner is dedicated to the American sport and full of its merchandise.

I’ve never seen anything like it and this was just a test event for 30,000 people. The next one will be 48,000 people and the Crystal Palace match will just be amazing.

These are fair criticisms and part of important conversations. They also belong in a context, though. Tottenham have reacted to a trend and this stadium is just part of their adaption. If the aim is to compete in the Premier League, then these facilities are a pre-requisite – and, to Daniel Levys great credit, they are being delivered as part of a package which makes plenty of deference to week to-week fans.

The noise on the inside of the bowl was something else – it was only half-full and it was deafening.

The barber just shrugs when asked about the effect of Tottenhams sabbatical from the area. In fact, he didnt know that the stadium was finished or that, on that very day, it will open with a visit from Southamptons U-18s. His English is broken and we repeat our questions and answers a couple of times, but he seems entirely indifferent. Theres been no effect on his work, none whatsoever on his life.

First ever goal at Tottenham's new stadium! 👏⚽️Scored by J'Neil Bennett. 1-0 Spurs.#COYS #THFC #JNeilBennett pic.twitter.com/Qlm1x12xqE

Traditionalists will also recoil from the band of executive seating which runs around the middle tier. Theres no cheese room, nobodys quite sure what happened to that, but Spurs luxury areas are very decadent indeed and entry comes at the cost of selling a few non-essential organs. So, yes, this is the modern game with a capital M and, as of Sunday, English footballs most evolved location.

There was something very special about the old White Hart lane and the all-white kits under the lights – so I’m very happy the first match is being played on a Wednesday evening

Modernisation is now mandatory. Do it, or give up the right to compete, The method is still up to the clubs though, and they can choose how they package that change. Tottenham have really succeeded on that front. Some of the praise should be deferred until their long-term ticketing structure is revealed – prices are being frozen next season – but so far so good.

My favourite part of the new stadium? The toilets are palatial compared with the troughs you used to get, and the bottoms-up beer too.

I could just stand there watching the beer fill from the bottom of the cups, it’s mind-boggling!

At Tottenham that isnt the case. While White Hart Lanes sheddishness allowed it to blend in, the new ground is – bluntly – an opulent jewel in a less than affluent area. Currently, this is a borough with just under 33% unemployment and where, according to a study conducted by The Independent in 2012, almost 40% of children live in poverty.

Amazing, this. Huge bar at the new Spurs stadium rapidly pours beers from the *bottom* of the glass, minimising head. 🍺⚽ #science #football pic.twitter.com/4MgQoJeY49

I also walked down the players’ tunnel and had a look around the pitch and it took my breath away.

Well, thats what people like me think. Outsiders, day-trippers, people who only come here for one reason. Its a ridiculous, antiquated perception, really, but one most people share: the football club as the industrial heartbeat, the arterial pipeline which pumps outside money into local business.

We have at least six home games left before the end of the season and the biggest one by far is when we take on Manchester City in the Champions League.

But having walked out on the pitch you just know there’s going to be some atmosphere so we stand a damn better chance of beating them than we would at Wembley.

Grade One is a little more extreme than usual, but haircuts unfortunately make little difference these days. In any case, the barber is insistent: thats the price of a quick chat about Tottenhams return to White Hart Lane and how the community feels about that return.

It’s easy to get on a high and get carried away but there’s something special in this place but I think there’s a belief among the fans that were there yesterday.

And what do I make of Spurs’ chances in the long-term? Well I still believe we can win the Premier League. I absolutely do.

Spurs are overachieving given they’ve basically played away games for the last one-and-three-quarter seasons and to still be where we are is remarkable.

Playing at home will make a huge difference and I’m ever the optimist so why not? We can’t wait to get back in.

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