Mauricio Pochettino Profile
|Born||Mar 02, 1973|
Born into a working-class Argentinean family of Italian descent, Mauricio Pochettino took to football at a young age, and his obsession has taken him all over the world.
By the time he broke into senior football in Argentina with Newell's Old Boys, he had it set in stone to be a central defender.
While at Newell's, Pochettino won a single league title and enjoyed a Copa Libertadores run that ended with defeat in the 1992 final.
He would transfer from there to newly-promoted La Liga side Espanyol in 1994, and the club would come to be a vital part of his playing and managerial career. He would have two stints there as a player and also begin his head coach career with the Blanquiazules.
Pochettino's career would take him to France next, signing with Paris Saint-Germain in 2001 and commanding a regular place in the starting XI until he left in 2003 for Bordeaux. He would also return to Paris as a manager.
He represented Argentina at age group and senior level and played in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
Pochettino returned to Espanyol in the twilight of his career and three years after hanging up his boots, began coaching the club's women's team. Soon after he was asked to become manager of the men's first team of the Barcelona-based outfit in 2009.
He made his name as a manager in England, though, first in a single-season spell at Southampton before he was snapped up by Tottenham, who hoped he could lead the club to glory.
Pochettino's spell at Tottenham was marked by major improvements to the squad and the adoption of a high-pressing game which saw the team become a force in cup football and even challengers in the league. After a poor start to the 2019/20 season, he was sacked by Spurs.
In 2021 Pochettino was snapped up by PSG after a short spell out of the game when he was continuously linked to some of football's most coveted positions, including jobs at Real Madrid and Manchester United.
Despite winning the Ligue 1 title in the 2021/22 season, Pochettino was sacked in the summer as PSG once again failed to make progress in the Champions League.
Pochettino's playing career
As a boy, Pochettino tried his hand as a striker and midfielder but settled on central defence as his calling and played there for most of his career.
It wasn't until he moved to Spain that he broke into the Argentina national team despite appearances for both the Under-20 and Under-23 national teams.
Pochettino credits his spells working under Marcelo Bielsa with moulding his footballing philosophy. He was mentored by Bielsa at Newell's and would earn his first Argentina call-up under the legendary coach.
He would only win one league title as a player, coming early in his career at Newell's but was involved in two Copa del Rey-winning Espanyol teams.
Pochettino played in the 2002 World Cup, featuring in all three group games, but Argentina bombed out of the tournament at the group stage.
Legendary status at Espanyol
Pochettino experienced tremendous highs and deep lows with Espanyol, a club that during his time as player and later as manager bounced between being relegation strugglers to competing for spots in Europe.
When he first arrived the club had just won promotion back into La Liga and he was to be their defensive reinforcement for the 1994/95 campaign.
Pochettino returned to Espanyol after his time in France and rounded out his career at the Spanish outfit. He was part of teams that won the Copa del Rey in both of his spells and won favour with the Periquitos faithful.
The club were prepared to gamble their future on Pochettino as a manager, giving him his first managerial gig just months after he obtained UEFA Pro License.
Tasked with saving the club from relegation, Pochettino would guide them to mid-table respectability, and they would remain in modest but comfortable standing for the two seasons immediately following that debut term.
A poor start to the 2012/13 season cost Pochettino his position in November 2012 but he had built quite the reputation with the high-energy pressing game he favoured.
Arriving in England with Southampton
Barely two months after his dismissal from Espanyol, Pochettino was appointed as manager of Southampton, taking over from Nigel Adkins in what was seen as a controversial move at the time, considering Adkins' reasonably successful record as Saints manager at that point.
Pochettino settled into life at St Mary's well, claiming some big scalps as they finished the term in 14th, five points clear of the drop zone.
The following season Pochettino delivered the Saints their highest Premier League points haul and an eighth-place finish, he also built the team into an entertaining unit, capable of huge upsets.
His time at St Mary's saw him recruit Victor Wanyama and Dejan Lovren amongst others, with the latter going on to play for Liverpool.
Pochettino's makeover of the Saints squad and playing style won him many fans in the 16 months he was on the English South Coast, including the Tottenham board - who snapped him up.
Revolutionising Tottenham Hotspur
The Pochettino era began at White Hart Lane with optimism in the air, with the Argentine being labelled a messiah by some sections of supporters.
Spurs began to show a willingness to entrust Pochettino with greater transfer funds which saw quality players begin to drip into the North London club, including Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld, and Heung-min Son in his first two seasons.
In his second full season at the club they would challenge for the Premier League title, ultimately finishing third. They began the 2016/17 season with a 12-game unbeaten run but would eventually fall off the pace and finish second - their best top-flight league position in 54 years.
While there were marked improvements on the pitch and while Spurs began knocking on the door to be considered among England's big clubs, Pochettino's reign was devoid of major trophies.
The huge strides in results and the brand of football played meant that most Spurs fans were content with Pochettino.
Spurs enjoyed an incredible run to the 2019 Champions League final, including some moments of tactical brilliance from Pochettino and great mental strength from the players, including an incredible second-leg comeback against Ajax in the semi-finals to book their place in the showpiece match.
In the final itself, Spurs were overwhelmed by the occasion and a familiar foe in Liverpool.
The hangover from their European run seemed to carry over to the next term and after a poor start, Pochettino fell victim to the expectations that he himself had raised.
He left Spurs with his reputation enhanced, despite the inauspicious end to his reign and was considered an option to take the helm at struggling Manchester United.
Return to PSG as a coach
Pochettino spent a short stint at PSG as a player, but was a regular for the club in an era that came years before the Qatari money inflated their ambition.
He was part of the PSG team that won their section of the 2001 Intertoto Cup and a team that made it to the Coupe de France final but otherwise won no honours in Paris as a player.
In 2021, Pochettino enjoyed an eventful start to his time as PSG boss, guiding the team to victory in the French Super Cup and in February seeing his star-studded outfit defeat Barcelona 4-1 at the Camp Nou in his first Champions League game in charge of the team.
That Champions League campaign was to come to an end in the semi-finals, though, with the Parisians losing both legs to Manchester City.
It was ultimately a disappointing season for PSG, with them being pipped to the Ligue 1 title by Lille, although they did win the Coupe de France.
Tottenham reportedly wanted to re-hire the Argentinian in the summer of 2021 to replace Jose Mourinho, but Pochettino quickly declared his intention to remain in Paris.
PSG won the Ligue 1 title in the 2021/22 season, but went out of the Champions League in the round of 16, losing 3-2 on aggregate to eventual winners Real Madrid.
Pochettino's failure in Europe, despite having an all-star line-up featuring Neymar, Lionel Messi and Mbappe, meant he was always on borrowed time at the French giants. He was sacked in July 2022, and quickly replaced by ex-Lille coach Christophe Galtier.
Pochettino's major honours
Newell Old Boys: Primera Division (1990/91), Clausura (1992)
Espanyol: Copa del Rey (2000) (2006)
PSG: Intertoto Cup (2001)
PSG: Ligue 1 (2021/22), Coupe de France (2021)
Personal life and net worth
Pochettino is a big believer in the notion of 'energÃa universal' and the interconnected nature of life and existence.
He and his wife Karina Grippaldi have two sons, Sebastiano and Maurizio. Sebastiano is a sports scientist and worked with Tottenham during his father's time as manager while Maurizio is an aspiring footballer. Maurizio was inducted into the Spurs academy and has since gone on to sign with Watford.