Toby Alderweireld has admitted it hurt when Mauricio Pochettino left him out of the Tottenham team but insists he understood the Argentine’s decision.
Pochettino brought Alderweireld into the club in his second summer in charge and the centre-back quickly became a regular in the starting line-up.
However, after suffering a hamstring injury in November 2017, Alderweireld struggled to reclaim his place during the second half of the 2017/18 season. More than simply failing to return to full fitness, it was thought that Alderweireld’s omission was down to his contract situation.
Until recently, the Belgian’s Spurs future was in major doubt as his contract neared its end. But after Jose Mourinho replaced Pochettino last November, Alderweireld swiftly signed a new deal, ending any speculation about an exit.
The 30-year-old also lost his place in the team in Pochettino’s final game in charge, a 1-1 home draw with Sheffield United in the Premier League, leading to the suggestion that Alderweireld would not have signed a new contract had Pochettino remained at the club.
In any case, the former Southampton and Atletico Madrid defender has explained how being left out by Pochettino made him feel.
“It always hurts when you are left out,” Alderweireld told the Daily Mail.
“The manager never gave me any reasons. But I understand that.
“I am not the guy who knocks on his door and says: ‘Hey, what about me?’. I think that is very selfish.
“Let’s be honest, he brought this club to the next level and I am grateful for what he did for the club. I think everyone is.
“I just always thought – again it sounds like arrogance – that I will show I deserved to be in the team, and that’s what I did.”
Alderweireld also hinted a contract extension was in the pipeline regardless of Pochettino’s presence, but Mourinho’s arrival expedited the process.
He said: “I guess it looks like I am happier now because the former manager left and I signed a deal.
“But I was happy back then as well.
“There were a lot of things going on behind the contract but I’ve always been happy at Spurs and will always do my best for Spurs.
“The more options I got the more I had to choose what I wanted and I was just like: ‘I want to stay at Spurs’.
“With a second child on the way I just wanted to stay and when the new manager came in he just asked me if I wanted to sign.
“After that the process went a little bit quicker because he did some things.
“I don’t know what the club’s tactics were. But when Jose came in it moved a bit quicker.”
Alderweireld has started every Premier League match since Mourinho took over and that shouldn’t change against Wolves this weekend – check out our predicted Spurs XI here.