Victor Wanyama Names His 3 Idols Growing Up & How 'Father Figure' Poch Has Transformed Him

Jamie Spencer
90Min

​ Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama is the latest player to lavish praise on Mauricio Pochettino, crediting the Argentine with transforming both Southampton and Spurs while he's played under him and is in awe of the impact the boss has had on Wanyama's own game.


"He changed the mindset at Southampton and now he has done the same at Tottenham," Wanyama explained in an interview with The Times.

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"At Southampton, like here, he built the team, developed young players, got good results, helped the club to grow. You can see it by the improvements he makes season by season. It's difficult to understand how he does that, but he does. He has a magic touch."

Pochettino famously steered the Saints away from relegation and immediate return to the Championship when he took over in the second half of the 2012/13 campaign, before going on to mastermind an 8th place finish just 12 months later.

At Spurs, he's seen improvements every season since he took over in 2014 and now looks almost certain to deliver the club's highest league finish (2nd) since 1963.

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The likes of Dele Alli and Eric Dier have spoken very positively about Pochettino, Alli in particular after he recently claimed a second straight PFA Player of the Year award, and Wanyama is no different when he talks about the manager's influence on him personally.

"I have said before he is like a father figure to me. With my parents being so far away, sometimes I will need someone to talk to. He talks to me like a father does. He's a great guy. Whenever you speak with him, you just feel warm," the Kenyan international said.

"The training is really hard but it has improved my fitness and improved my game. Mentally, he makes players focus on bigger things and we started to achieve those things. He changes your mindset.

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"Tactically, he has taught me a lot. Before, I was just thinking, 'I'll just sit here and defend.' But if you're playing for him, it's not only defending. You have to attack also. You have to know the right time. I have learned so much from him."

Battling at the very top of the Premier League is a far cry from Wanyama's humble beginnings against a 'dangerous' backdrop in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

He was exposed to English football from a young age, watching games in a local cinema until his family got their own television set, and idolised Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira and Paul Scholes.

Roy Keane

"Sometimes we could watch Premier League games at home," said Wanyama, now a role model to youngsters back home.

"Now there are a lot of other kids watching the Premier League on TV, hoping they can be here when they grow up.  I think I've set a good example and shown it can happen. When I go there, I try to encourage the young kids and tell them to believe and to work hard and it might happen. Believe in yourself. Anything can be done."

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