Struggling to catch his breath, covered in a sheen of sweat, Sergio Reguilon’s post-match interview was a testament to how hard Tottenham had to work to beat Leeds.
Speaking to Sky Sports before the game, Reguilon suggested that his first few weeks working with Antonio Conte had been brutal. “We are working a lot,” he said. “The last weeks and the international break was [among] the worst weeks of my life.
“[Conte’s] a fanatic of football. He always speaks about football in training, before training, after training. I go to sleep, I’m thinking about football, my tactics, my position.”
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Happily for Reguilon, the hard work paid off against Leeds. Having fallen behind to a goal from Dan James just before half time, Spurs levelled through Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg before Reguilon nabbed the winner after following up on Eric Dier’s deflected free kick to score.
Having also had a hand in Hojbjerg’s equaliser, it was a strong individual showing from Spurs’ left wing-back. The goal was Reguilon’s first in a Tottenham shirt, having last found the net in a Europa League game against Roma in August 2020 when he was still on loan from Real Madrid at Sevilla.
Speaking after the match, Reguilon gave some insight into Conte’s gruelling tactical demands and just how difficult it is to meet his expectations. “Now I am the person most happy in the world,” he said, when asked whether his goal was a decent reward for his manager’s punishing training sessions.
Antonio Conte congratulates Reguilon after the final whistle
Image credit: Getty Images
“It’s my first goal in the Premier League, we get three points, it’s unbelievable, amazing.
“When we attack I have to have the mentality from my striker, the gaffer wants that. I have to arrive, arrive, arrive, and also defend.
“Now I’m dead, but I’m so happy, I’m so happy… at half time the gaffer told us to go man to man, we did, [we gave] extra effort, we went with everything.
“I think it’s the way. We were losing in the first half, our mentality was like a big team, and we got the three points.”
Conte, meanwhile, was delighted to see his half-time tactical switch pay dividends. “The game wasn’t easy, but we knew this,” he said.
“I read the stats from Leeds, they are fast in their intensity, in their running, but I have seen a lot of positive things, especially because in the first half, we struggled, we struggled a lot in the tactical aspect – that depends on me – but in the second half, we changed it, we changed plan.
I asked the players to go to press with intensity and the game changed totally. We must be pleased. To have this kind of answer is important. I was a player, and I know very well that the moment is not good for us, to finish the half 1-0 down, our fans not satisfied with our performance, you can go down.
“Instead, in the second half, we found the right way, and this is very important, because I know we have a lot of room for improvement.”
Conte also praised his team’s mentality, having watched Spurs pull off only their second comeback win of the season. “It means this team has character, has personality,” he added. “When you do this, after a first half where you struggle a lot, it means that the players have character.
“I’m happy also because I think between the first half and the second half, I found the right words, we changed it tactically, and also the right words for the players because, in this kind of situation, it’s not good to shout, but to have a good chat to show confidence, because I trust these players, and they know this.”
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