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Poyet bounces back from Spurs blow and targets Premier League return

21 Nov 2009 01:30:14

Poyet bounces back from Spurs blow and targets Premier League return

Gus Poyet pinpoints the moment he realised he was starting to thinklike an Englishman. It was November 22, 2003 and he was at home inBerkshire, watching television when Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal won therugby World Cup. 'It is one of the greatest moments I've had in England,' admitsPoyet. 'I am a sportsman and to see the moment and the quality, thetalent of a player like Wilkinson, doing that at that time, you feelit. 'My kids were celebrating, I was celebrating. After you think, "Icelebrated an England win, why?" But why would I celebrate Australia?No way. I'm living here, I want the country to do well, even thepoliticians to do well. It is an example of how much you come to carefor the country where you live.' Aiming high: Gus Poyet wants to be back in the top flight soon Poyet would still cheer on his native Uruguay against England but it is 12 years since he joined Chelsea on a free transfer from Real Zaragoza and his sons Matias, 16, and Diego, 14, though born in Spain, have been raised here. They are in the habit of correcting their father's English mistakes and they play cricket and rugby union as well as football. Matias was at The Oval to see England win the Ashes this year. 'He was a happy boy,' says Poyet, who is learning about the summer sport. 'We have a deal at home. If it's a five-day Test, they cannot watch it all day long. If it's Twenty20 or a one-day international, we will watch it. Five days of cricket is too much. 'I went to watch them play for the school and I made the mistake on the first day. Everybody is bringing chairs and I'm standing, thinking, "What's going on here?" Three hours later, I realised. I was aching, I was dead and I was saying, "I'll never ever come back if I don't bring a chair".' Those who saw Poyet play for Chelsea will recognise this attitude. His status as one of the club's most popular players of the modern era owes just as much to the way he embraced the culture at Stamford Bridge as his ability to arrive late in the penalty box and score goals. He was the life and soul of the teams managed by Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli before ending his career with three years at Tottenham. Point to prove: Brighton manager Gus Poyet on the touchline during the League One match at Southampton At Swindon and Leeds, he is remembered fondly by fans as assistant to Dennis Wise, despite leaving both clubs to further his ambition, latterly with a return to Spurs alongside Juande Ramos. He is now manager of Brighton. Poyet has already lifted his new club and talks giddily about the future under chairman Tony Bloom, the new stadium finally taking shape in Falmer and the plan to take the Seagulls back to the top flight of English football. 'For me this is perfect,' he explains. 'The time, the place, the club, the chairman.' Poyet has signed a contract until the end of next season but if he wants to lead the team into the stadium, due to open for the 2011-12 season, he will have to earn a new deal. 'I have a year and a half to bring this club into the Championship,' he says, but his own ambitions are set high. 'My aim is to go back to the Premier League. If that's with Brighton in a few years then great. If it's in another place, it's in another place. That's life.' Having persuaded Brighton to give him the chance to launch his managerial career, Poyet was shaken on his first day in the job by a chilling phone call with news that close friend Carlo Cudicini had cheated death in a motorcycle crash. Poyet was at Cudicini's hospital bedside later that day, relieved to see his former Chelsea team-mate smiling through the agony of two broken wrists and a damaged pelvis, and the Spurs keeper was well enough to send a congratulatory text message after Poyet's first game in charge, a 3-1 win at Southampton on the Uruguayan's 42nd birthday. 'That was very nice, knowing he had both hands in plaster,' smiles Poyet. 'I got home at about 10pm, drank a glass of wine and relaxed for the first time and thought, "Today is my birthday".' More emotion is in store today when League One leaders Leeds visit the Withdean Stadium. It will be Poyet's first encounter with Leeds and chairman Ken Bates since he left Elland Road for Spurs in October 2007. 'My relationship with Leeds fans was fantastic and I'm sure they recognise what I did for the club and understand why I left,' he says. 'I was an assistant manager in League One and left to be assistant manager at Tottenham. 'In any job you can go to a better place to earn more. Why would you say no? I want to be at the top. 'We had the same thing here at Brighton. When we set up the contract, the chairman asked me: "If this club come for you will you go?" I won't say the names but I say, "Chairman, come on". And he says, "OK, OK, I would expect you to go". Then he says another name and I say, "No, I won't go there." He knows. At Leeds it was the same.' One thing is for sure, this South American is in no hurry to leave the country.  Crash victim Carlo Cudicini out for the season but Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp rules out move for Manchester United's Ben Foster Jack Rodwell will break through, Chelsea pip United for the title, City can crack big four and back Fernando Torres for top scorer - Premier League bosses' surveyThe 31 beasts who lie in wait for Fabio Capello's Three Lions in South Africa  Explore more:People:Ken Bates, Jonny Wilkinson, Carlo CudiciniPlaces:Leeds, Spain, United Kingdom, Australia, Elland Road


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