Yves Bissouma has revealed how a flat tire and traffic in London led to Ange Postecoglou telling him how to be a leader at Tottenham.
Bissouma was one of the catalysts for Spurs’ great start to the season under Postecoglou, despite being criticized under former boss Antonio Conte.
Postecoglou told Bissouma on his first day that he saw the midfielder as an important part of his plans… only that he would arrive late the next day.
“That day I had a little problem with my car,” Bissouma said. “I was late, he caught me and said if you want to be a leader, you have to be on time. I said I’m sorry, I told him why. We fixed it and from that day on I have always been on time.
‘I had a flat tire and there was also a lot of traffic. But it’s no excuse, every player knows the time, so you have to be on time. Things can happen, but the way he said it was: “If you want to be a leader or a big player, you have to be on time and try to respect all the details of the club.” It’s about respect, that’s important. We solved it. I told him and the rest of the players that I was sorry. Now I’m always the first to train!’
Yves Bissouma has praised the impact and approach of Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou
The Spurs boss has made a great start in the role and was August’s manager of the month
The midfielder enjoys his football and has been one of the team’s most important players this season
Bissouma has been one of Tottenham’s greatest players. For all the attention on ‘main man’ James Maddison, Heung-min Son’s hat-trick heroics against and Richarlison’s redemption against Sheffield United, Bissouma has glued it all together.
Before this weekend’s matches, no Premier League player had won more interceptions than Bissouma and only one player had won more matches.
IT’S ALL GOING OFF!
‘I see myself as a player who can play in any position in midfield; I can play six, eight or ten,” Bissouma said. But I want to contribute what the gaffer wants and respect the tactical aspect.
‘I do what the coach wants me to do. And then if I feel something in a game, I can do it. That’s why I’m everywhere on the field sometimes.
‘The gaffer said a lot of positive things about me. He had confidence in me and showed this from day one.
‘He said: ‘Just be yourself and play the football we want to see and the football everyone wants to see, because you can do a lot. I give you all my trust and the rest is up to you.”
‘He is a very good manager, but also a very, very good person. He is very close to his players. This is important. When the gaffer comes and talks to all his players, it gives confidence.’
Bissouma has received more confidence from Postecoglou than from Conte. He joined Tottenham from Brighton for £25 million last summer but endured a turbulent time under the former boss, who branded him ‘the only player who struggles with the tactical aspect’.
“I’m not going to blame him,” Bissouma said. ‘Maybe it’s the way he acts. He has his ways in football and I have my ways. If he said that, maybe it’s because he wanted me to play. I didn’t play like that. I respect him because he is a great coach, so I wish him all the best, but I have to follow my path and stay focused on what I have to do here.
“Every season has its reality and last season was not my season. You can tell from the beginning that I had Covid in Korea. I came back and got hurt. Many things happened. I tried, but I wasn’t myself. I didn’t feel confident. This season is completely different. I have more self-confidence. The coach has told me what he wants me to do.
‘Last season I knew I wasn’t good. I didn’t have any confidence in it, I can say that. But I just tried to keep following my goals. I told myself I know who I am, which player I am and where I want to go. I never gave up. I have continued to work and now let’s see what happens.’
Bissouma was born in Ivory Coast, but left his family to move to Mali at the age of 13 to join an academy.
Bissouma was born in Ivory Coast, but left his family to move to Mali at the age of 13
Bissouma struggled last season and lost confidence under former boss Antonio Conte
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“It was very difficult for me,” Bissouma said. ‘I always thought about my parents. I was very close to them. I am a family person. When I don’t have my family around me, I’m a bit absent. I just realized that I had a great chance to make my dream come true because I always wanted to play football
‘I remember when I was young (in Ivory Coast), I played in the street without shoes. With my friends, everyone’s running everywhere. When it was raining or hot, we played football. When you’re young you don’t care, you just want to play and enjoy. That’s what I was doing.
‘You play with everyone on the street, people you know, people you don’t know, people walking by start playing with you. Football in Africa is like a religion. Everyone sleeps football, dreams football, lives football. I remember when I was young, for big Champions League games or Premier League games, we would go to one of my friends’ houses. Everyone from the area would come.
There would be maybe 20 people there to watch the game and then we’d go outside and play. It is a huge sport in Africa. It comes from the heart.
‘That’s how I grew up. Every time I stand on a football field, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘enjoyment’. Because from an early age I prayed that I could play football. Now I’m a professional and I play in one of the best leagues in the world. So I just want to enjoy it. You have to follow your dream and everything will be fine.’
Now he is set to play a key role in Totteham’s bid to win their first North London Premier League derby at the Emirates Stadium in thirteen years.
“I like to play big games, and a game against Arsenal is always a really big game,” Bissouma said. ‘I like that, because if you want to be a big player, for me you have to be an asset in big games. It’s going to be a good thing and we have to be ready for it.”