Jose Mourinho jokingly gave Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg the nickname ‘Zidane’ after he performed a risky double-pirouette on the edge of his own box in Tottenham’s 3-0 win over LASK in the Europa League.
The Spurs boss revealed he was laughing about the passage of play with his staff at the interval, which saw the no-nonsense midfielder delicately beat two opposition players with the skill largely associated with Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane.
Mourinho said he admired the Dane’s spirit after he shrugged off a nasty-looking eye injury that required stitches, before going on to play through the pain barrier on Thursday night.
His warrior-like mentality will only have endeared himself to the club’s supporters but Mourinho is hoping Hojbjerg won’t be so brave in trying that piece of skill again.
‘We were having a laugh at half-time and we were all calling him Zidane. Very nice but don’t do it again, Pierre!’ Mourinho said in his post-match press conference.
Hojbjerg has made a brilliant start to life at Spurs since his summer move from Southampton and is looking like a real bargain at £15million.
He was influential in Spurs’ opening Europa League group-stage game against LASK as he played 62 minutes despite receiving that heavy knock which saw him sport a fetching head bandage.
Mourinho went on to praise the 25-year-old for his impact since arriving, describing the defensive midfielder as ‘captain material’.
‘He’s a very good player, a good leader and a captain without the armband,’ Mourinho added.
Mourinho was also left impressed by Carlos Vinicius, who finished his debut for the club with an impressive two assists.
He set up goals in either half for Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min and would have opened his account had Andres Andrade not turned a Gareth Bale cross into his own goal.
Mourinho was enthused by his debut and says he can be more than just a deputy to Kane.
‘He played well but he can do better,’ Mourinho said. ‘It is a bit of a shame still, it is not easy not to speak English so the adaption to the group, in spite of having amazing guys that try to make him feel well, is not easy.
‘Different football, different way to play, to think, learning the way we press, learning the attacking movements.
‘He is still in a learning process, Vinicius can be much more than this. But first match I am really happy, the only thing that was missing was a goal.
‘But we can see he is much more than… he is not selfish, he is a good target man, he can even play with Harry Kane when his good period arrives.
‘He can play with Harry and not just be the guy to cover him. I am very happy and the feelings over everyone in the squad are good towards him.’
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