Tottenham defender Mauricio Taricco has been talking exclusively to Jonas Ahrell of Sportal - a new sports internet company. He has allowed us to use this interview in which the player explains about his career so far, English football and what he thinks of the club at the present ....
The younger generation of Tottenham Hotspur supporter may not remember the days when Spursī Argentinian duo, Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricky Villa, wooed the White Hart Lane faithful.
Who can forget Villa taking on the entire Manchester City defence in an historic FA Cup Final victory in 1981?
But what they will remember from this season is the ever present, ever consistent and ever reliable figure of former Argentina Under-21 international Mauricio Taricco.
The Buenos Aires-born left-back, signed from Ipswich Town for £1.75 million just over a year ago, has won over many sceptics who were unsure that the 27-year-old could bridge the gap between First Division and the Premiership.
A string of assured performances, along with great control, touch and distribution, has shown him to be a shrewd purchase by Spurs boss George Graham, who knows a thing or two about defenders.
Articulate, impeccably mannered and an all-round lovely bloke, Tano (itís his nickname Ė it means an Italian in his native Argentina) spoke exclusively to Sportal about life, a frustrating second term with Spurs but assures us that the season is far from over.
Sportal: When you were living in Argentina you were playing top-flight football with Argentinos Juniors. What made you leave your home and come to England?
Taricco: I wanted to play in Europe. Although I was playing in the top division in Argentina I thought at the time it was a good decision to come and play in England and try a new language and new culture. I wanted to try a new way of life as well because at that time I was single and after the decision to move I got married. So it was a big, big change in my life and it worked out perfectly.
Sportal: You then became a firm favourite with Ipswich Town and enjoyed four good seasons. Was it a hard decision to leave Ipswich?
Taricco: Spurs are a big club and with the big Argentinean names who have played at Spurs I had to take the opportunity to join and play in the Premiership. Having said that I was very comfortable at Ipswich and I had a good relationship with the fans and with the club, but it was the First Division. Every player would take the chance to play in the Premiership and play with a club like Spurs. It was a big step, but I was willing to do it.
Sportal: Does that mean you saw your time at Ipswich merely as a stepping stone into the top flight?
Taricco: I did not see it that way. I had a great time at Ipswich and I felt very much at home there. Maybe not in the first year but all the people were so good to me.
Sportal: You are now part of a club who, along with the likes of Aston Villa, Newcastle and West Ham, are aiming for a European place. Is it frustrating that Spurs havenít managed to breakthrough to that level?
Taricco: It is frustrating for the whole club, frustrating because we are not getting the results we want. I mean it is a difficult time for the club. From now on we have another eight games to go and we know we have to start taking three points if we want to be in the top six. We are really concentrating and focused on what we need to do. But you know sometimes something happens, mistakes happen, and at the end of the day that can be very disappointing. Now we have to try and forget what has happened up until now and try and get a run together. We know we can do it because everyone is dropping points, so the main thing is to try and get some consistency going.
Sportal: Can you do that with the set up you have at the moment?
Taricco: Yes. There is no question that the club is going to bring in some new players next year and the manager just made that clear. That will be good because nowadays, big clubs need big squads.
Sportal: Is that the answer, to bring in new players, or is there more to it?
Taricco: I think these days, with the amount of games we have to play, you need a bigger squad. The last few days for example we have been training with only about seven or eight first-team players, with the others out with knocks, soreness and tiredness. With the pace of the game nowadays, clubs like Spurs need more players.
Sportal: But Tottenham have had trouble of late attracting some of the bigger names. Why is that?
Taricco: I couldnít really tell you. When I had the chance I thought ĎSpurs, Iím goingí. Itís probably because in the last six or seven years Tottenham havenít done as well as everyone expected. But that has to turn around because with the support Spurs have and their size Iím sure players will start coming.
Sportal: As you say Spurs have failed of late to live up to expectations. How has that effected dressing-room morale?
Taricco: It makes it uncertain I suppose because as I said to you weíre still OK but of course you need results to make you feel better and better. We got a great result against Southampton then we go to Arsenal and get beaten. Itís like you go one step forward and then, I wouldnít say we take one step back, but we stop and that makes it a bit uncertain. I mean all the players, weíre all professional and I never talk about luck, but may be we need a little bit of luck and then confidence will grow even though we are confident that we can win any game. But then for one reason or another, itís just not happening, and that makes it a little bit frustrating.
Sportal: What about you personally, do you think that you have improved as a player under the tutelage of George Graham, a manager renowned for his defensive expertise?
Taricco: Honestly, I think I played a bit better at Ipswich than I have done at Spurs. Itís not just the goals I scored there but itís a different team and there are different players around. I was also at Ipswich for a lot longer. It is very difficult to point out exactly why, thatís my opinion anyway, but sometimes I feel itís just not clicking in the same way when I was at Ipswich.
Sportal: A lot of foreign players have complained recently about abuse levelled at them because of their nationality. Have you ever had any stick from fans or players for being Argentinean?
Taricco: Not really. Maybe when you are playing and you do something that is more in line with the Argentinean style of play, than the English style, then they tell you. But itís normal, I mean youíre a foreigner, youíre abroad and sometimes people let you know that. But I donít take it badly. These things happen when youíre on the pitch and every one is worked up. But when the game is finished Iím treated just like everybody else. It happens and itís football. Sometimes people shout at you and it happens because people are excited on the pitch. As long as it is forgotten after the game, which it mostly is.
Sportal: Some foreign players have claimed that playing in the Premiership hinders their chances of making the national team. Do you think playing in England has hampered your chances of winning a place in the Argentine side?
Taricco: To be honest, if I was playing in a club as big as Tottenham, in Italy, or even Spain, I suppose my chances would be higher. Iím 27 years old and Iíve played most of my career in England and I like it here. That doesnít mean I donít like Italy and their style of play, but I like it here as well. Most Argentineans are wrong with their perception of the English top flight. Their ideas havenít changed over the last 20 years but the English League has. You can see how far English teams have come in the European results this year. That tells you something.
Sportal: What did you think of the England v Argentina game?
Taricco: Argentina were very poor and very disappointing but I thought England did well. I mean with the names Argentina have, with the players they have, they were average. I know they are quality players all of them and there are some good players individually. But they just werenít doing it and not even running enough. They have got quality and they can appear for five minutes and score two goals. But on the day they hardly created anything and for Argentina thatís not good enough.
Thanks again to Jonas and to Sportal for the use of this interview. You can check out their sports site at www.sportal.net
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