Pochettino: Diving was practised in Argentina

LONDON • Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino defended midfielder Dele Alli from accusations of diving and revealed that when he was a youngster in Argentina, he and his team-mates even practised diving to win penalties.

Alli was widely lambasted for his theatrical fall that won Spurs a first-half penalty that sparked off a 5-0 rout of Swansea at White Hart Lane on Saturday. Harry Kane converted the spot-kick to open the scoring of the match.

On Sunday, however, Pochettino recalled how when he came through the ranks at Newell's Old Boys in his native Argentina, they even used to practise diving in training.

"In Argentina, yes, the people sometimes practise that, it's true," Pochettino said. "But (that was) many years ago. Now I don't know. When I was a player, it was always a part of training to try to cheat. At Newell's, many, many years ago, it was part of practice."

Pochettino also admitted that diving is no longer the murky preserve of foreign players and recalled the day when, as an Argentinian international defender, he was punished for bringing down England striker Michael Owen at the 2002 World Cup Finals.

Owen fell over Pochettino's left leg but while referee Pierluigi Collina pointed to the spot, replays showed he had not touched the striker.

"It was 15 years ago when Owen dived," Pochettino said.

"Don't believe that English football is fair play always, because Owen jumped like he was in a swimming pool. Come on, I didn't touch him. I promise you. It's true.

"I think today football is more global. England is more like European football. Now we have the influence of the Latin people who try to cheat always.

"Maybe you were more pure 20, 25, 30 years ago. Now you are like us."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 06, 2016, with the headline 'Pochettino: Diving was practised in Argentina'. Print Edition | Subscribe