Mauricio Pochettino wept tears of joy as the emotional Tottenham manager hailed “super-hero” Lucas Moura for the incredible hat-trick that fired Tottenham into their first Champions League final.
Tottenham enjoyed arguably the greatest night in their history as Lucas’s second-half treble clinched a 3-2 semi-final second-leg win that sent Pochettino’s side through on away goals.
With just seconds left at the Johan Cruyff Arena, Tottenham were heading out of the tournament, but Brazilian forward Lucas came to the rescue with a superb strike from the edge of the area.
It was all too much for Pochettino, who danced with delight before burying his head in the turf as he let his emotions run wild.
When the final whistle went, Pochettino sobbed uncontrollably and he was still misty-eyed when he spoke to the media.
“It’s still difficult to talk. The emotion is amazing, thank you to football. My players are heroes — in the last year I was telling everyone this group are heroes,” Pochettino told BT Sport.
“They are all heroes but Lucas was a super-hero. Unbelievable hat-trick. He deserves it, he is a great guy.
“The second half they were amazing. Thank you football! This type of emotion without football is not possible.”
Tottenham were written off in some quarters before the match after losing the first leg at home 1-0, a match that Ajax dominated for long periods.
And Pochettino took a subtle swipe at the doubters when he said: “Thank you to everyone who has believed in us. To describe this in words is difficult.
“We were talking before the game that when you work and when you feel the love it’s not stress, it’s passion of the team.
“We showed we love the sport and football. Today was amazing. It was a joy to watch this kind of game.
“It’s difficult to compete at this level. I am so grateful to be a coach. To be in football and to live this type of football.”
Welling up with emotion, Pochettino was crying again towards the end of the interview as he dedicated the astonishing triumph to his family.
“To have the chance to play a final is amazing. I want to remember my family, it is for them too. For the people who support us in that moment, it is amazing to reward them,” he said as the tears flowed once more.
“I think everyone deserves it in this club, with all the tough times we’ve had in the five years that we have been here.”