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Spurs v Chelsea Thomas Tuchel plays down claims he is a Spurs fan as Jose Mourinho reveals Dele Alli talks

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Thomas Tuchel has played down his boyhood affection for Tottenham as just back-garden games (Richard Heathcote/PA)

Thomas Tuchel has played down his boyhood affection for Tottenham as just back-garden games (Richard Heathcote/PA)

Thomas Tuchel has played down his boyhood affection for Tottenham as just back-garden games (Richard Heathcote/PA)

New Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has moved to distance himself from suggestions that he is a Spurs fan, as he prepares to take charge of his first game against Jose Mourinho's Tottenham on Thursday night.

Chelsea supporters have a long-standing animosity towards Spurs, yet Tuchel has insisted claims that he grew up as a Tottenham fan in Germany are wide of the mark.

The 47-year-old light-heartedly conceded as a youngster he did not even realise Tottenham were based in London, simply being entranced by short television clips.

"They are one of the biggest clubs in England and in Europe, for sure," Tuchel said, speaking ahead of the teams’ meeting at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

"It’s a big challenge but don’t get confused: when I was a boy once or twice it was me pretending to be Tottenham in the garden, it was to show off more in front of my friends. Because actually I didn’t even know Tottenham were a team in London. It was just a fancy name and a team we could see on TV for a few minutes.

"Later of course with Jurgen Klinsmann and some German players there that led to a bigger focus.

"But there’s no doubt that I arrive (on Thursday) in blue, proud to coach in blue and proud to coach my team and we will do everything to win the game."

Tuchel went on to insist this game should not be billed as Mourinho vs Tuchel, as the teams involved are bigger than the managers on the touchline.

"I strongly believe that it's Tottenham against Chelsea and not me against Jose," he stated.

"I'm very happy to compete with a strong team against his side. I'm very happy to arrive with a squad with our quality, with our mentality and with the atmosphere that we are in right now. This is the most important.

"Was he (Mourinho) a role model? Honestly, when I started my career he was so far away: like the moon from the earth. So he could not be a role model at all. I was happy to work in the academy, then I was promoted to league football and from there I just enjoyed and focused on every day.

"He is one of the best managers in the world and has created a squad at Tottenham that's very, very competitive, very, very strong. That will be the challenge for us.

"Is it a clash of cultures? I don't know. Jose is a winner and I want to implement the same in my teams. We are at the highest level to win games and we'll try tomorrow to beat them in their stadium."

Ahead of his clash with former club Chelsea, Mourinho has confirmed he has held talks with midfielder Dele Alli, after his hopes of a move to Paris Saint-Germain failed to materialise in the transfer window.

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Jose Mourinho and Dele Alli had a productive meeting on Tuesday (Alex Livesey/PA)

Jose Mourinho and Dele Alli had a productive meeting on Tuesday (Alex Livesey/PA)

Jose Mourinho and Dele Alli had a productive meeting on Tuesday (Alex Livesey/PA)

"I had a good conversation with him yesterday. We spoke around this question you asked me and we found very common ground, let's say," said Mourinho.

"It's an important period of the season for the team and for him also. We need him. We need a good Dele Alli and we're just waiting for him to be back to normality and training with the team.

"It's not just Dele. It's Dele, Kane, Gio Lo Celso. And without all three players we miss a little bit of creation and magic in the attacking areas. So we need him back and I made that very sure to him.

"Of course, a conversation doesn't make miracles or put a player in great form without limitations in terms of fitness. But I believe the conversation was maybe the extra motivation he needed to be back as soon as possible and become available for the team.

"We play Europa League very soon and we're playing a couple of Premier League matches every week. We have the FA Cup – I don't believe he'll be on time for that one. We have a final to play in April. So we need a good Dele back and I believe that when he's physically ready, he'll be in a good place mentally to go for it."

Mourinho also confirmed Harry Kane will not be out for too long with the ankle injury he picked up against Liverpool last week and he could return at some point in the next 10 days.

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