Tottenham's long road to the Champions League final
From mid-table to the biggest game in Europe, lifelong Tottenham fan Guy Giles discusses the club's stunning journey to Madrid.
Tottenham Hotspur are in the Champions League final. That is something I never thought I would be able to say.
My life as a Spurs fan began around the year 2000, when the likes of Serhiy Rebrov, Oyvind Leonhardsen and, erm, Gary Doherty were the stars of White Hart Lane.
We were a mid-table team, with the club finishing 12th, 9th, 10th, 14th and 9th over the next five Premier League seasons.
But since Martin Jol’s delightful side finished fifth in 2005/06, I have seen the club slowly develop into a top team.
That status was not fully cemented until the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino, who instilled a belief in both players and fans that I had never experienced before.
Fifth turned into third. Third into second.
Europa League trips to Azerbaijan turned into Champions League nights at the Santiago Bernabeu and the San Siro.
An exit at the group stage became an exit at the round of 16.
Despite all this, the Champions League final was still something which felt out of reach, even under Magic Mauricio.
The bottomless pockets of clubs like Manchester City and PSG, and the European pedigree of clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona, meant any thoughts of us reaching this point felt like mere fantasy.
One point from our first three games did not help.
Late goals in our next three provided a miraculous escape.
A ruthless dismantling of Borussia Dortmund had us dreaming again.
Drawing City in the quarters brought us crashing back down to earth.
VAR catapulted us back into dreamland.
And then came the semi-final against Ajax. You get the idea.
Our passage to the final has seen more sighs, cries, cheers and tears than anything I can remember, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If a place in the final was not miraculous enough already, you must remember the injuries, lack of signings (none since January 2018) and delays to the new stadium this season.
But that is how Spurs have always done things – the hard way.
And, if we are to win against Liverpool on Saturday, there is little chance of things being any different.
A comfortable 2-0 win? Sorry, that’s not Spurs.
A scrappy 94th-minute winner off an unsuspecting Fernando Llorente’s back? That’s more like it.
Let’s not forget the quality of the team we’re facing – this Liverpool side are one of the best Europe has seen over the last few years and will come in as favourites.
They already hold two wins over us this season, including one at Anfield decided by a shambolic last-minute own goal from Toby Alderweireld.
A similar finish on Saturday would be the most ‘Spursy’ thing to happen since the word ‘Spursy’ was invented, and I am already preparing myself for such a possibility.
The day itself will be a blur of beers and clock-watching until 8pm, when the Champions League anthem blares out and I may just s*** myself.
Until then, however, I will be revelling in something that I, and many other fans, may never experience again.
Tottenham Hotspur are in the Champions League final, and it feels good.