Mauricio Pochettino is getting a reputation for being a bit of a prankster with his players. His latest victim? Dele Alli, who revealed in the England vs. the Netherlands matchday program that before his first England call-up against France, Pochettino tried to convince him that he'd been called up to the England U19s instead of the senior squad.
Here are the quotes, as reported by GOAL:
"We were away in Monaco for the Europa League. [Pochettino] pulled me over to one side and asked me how I was feeling, and whether I wanted to go away with the Under-19s.
"At that time I was playing with the Under-20s, so I asked him if it was okay to do that. He said it was fine, and I told him I was delighted to play for England whatever the age group.
"Then he told me it was to join the Seniors. I was shocked. I tried not to think about it too much because we had a game the next day, it was hard to keep my emotions in check."
Alli, of course, took his chance with both hands and turned it into an eye-popping performance, scoring a magical goal in his debut against France.
[Editor's note: this article was edited to clarify that the prank was pulled before Alli's first-ever England cap against France, not the recent match against Germany. I apologize for the error.]
"The manager texted me at 10 past nine on Wednesday morning and he said 'can you come to my office?' I was thinking 'what have I done?'
"So I went to his office and he sat me down and said 'I've got something to tell you - we've accepted a bid, we're selling you'. I said 'no you're not'.
"Then he said 'yes, it's true' and one of the other coaches walked in and said 'have you told him he's got to go?'
"But then after that he told me that he was at the Milton Keynes game the night before, against Man United, and he heard a rumour that I might have a chance of being selected.
"Then later on the England manager called me and he verified it."
Oh, Mauricio, you lovable little scamp. I love stories like this: it shows a different side of Pochettino and also offers a glimpse into the excellent relationship he has with his players.