Ryan Sessegnon’s excitement at Jose Mourinho’s appointment at Tottenham went through the roof when the new boss compared him to Ashley Cole.
The 19-year-old’s time at Spurs got off to a tricky start as he arrived from Fulham on deadline day with a hamstring injury and he had only made two substitute appearances before the man who signed him, Mauricio Pochettino, was sacked.
That was a disappointment for the left-sided player, having been attracted to Spurs by Pochettino, but he cannot have had too many complaints at Mourinho’s appointment after the Portuguese previously tried to sign him three times when manager of Manchester United.
In the first few days of his time at Spurs, Mourinho also made the point of identifying similarities between Sessegnon and former England left-back Cole.
“As soon as Spurs appointed him, it was exciting,” Sessegnon said.
“He’s a big manager in the game, he’s won things and as a young player you can only look to improve yourself under him.
“He’s always talking to me, giving me pointers and tips where I can improve.
“He’s a manager who obviously wants to win things which is one of the reasons why I’m here.
“It’s flattering to be compared to someone like that, someone who I think is a great player and for someone like the manager to put my name in the same breath as Ashley Cole was big for me.
“It does give a lot of belief and confidence for upcoming games and it makes me want to work even harder to get more.
“I definitely had an eye on Ashley Cole when I was growing up. I was an attacking full-back, very aggressive but can also go forward and supply goals, assists and he was definitely one of the players that I looked up to.”
Sessegnon is expected to make his full debut in the Champions League clash at Bayern Munich as Mourinho makes changes for the dead rubber with both teams qualified for the knockout stages.
It is not a bad place to start for the teenager, whose hamstring injury picked up in the summer playing for England Under-21s put the brakes on his Spurs career.
“You always want to get off on the right foot so coming to the club injured wasn’t easy for me,” he said.
“As it was my first serious injury, it was hard to go out and watch the boys train when all I wanted was to be involved.
“But it’s part of the game, it’s part of football, I’m back now so I’m raring to go and enjoying finally playing now.
“It’s been a long time since I started a game of football, it’s been about getting fit again really, trying to get my level back.
“That’s what I’ve got to do now and hopefully get some minutes under my belt.”
He has been given the treat of a private audience with Mourinho, who has given him advice and told him to be more vocal.
“Really he just sat me down, told me to be myself, told me to be a bit more vocal because I am quite a quiet player and person in general,” Sessegnon revealed.
“I think he wants me to show a bit more personality, show a bit more of me, show that I want to play, show that I will fight for my place in the team and a lot of strong words really.
“I’m still young myself but I’m someone who needs to be more vocal around the pitch, off the pitch and really want to stamp my ability on this game.
“I have to work hard to break through into this team and really show that I can do that. I think it’s a fair point that he’s made, to be honest.”