Pedro Porro

“A bit of a whirlwind,” Pedro Porro tells Sky Sports with a smile.

The wing-back is reflecting on his arrival at Tottenham on the final day of the January transfer window, in a deal that was on, then off, then, at last, on again, but the same term – torbellino, to use the Spanish – could easily be applied to what has followed.

It has been a period of immense upheaval at Tottenham and Porro, on loan from Sporting Lisbon but with a reported £39m obligation to buy at the end of the season, has experienced it all while adapting to a new club, a new country and, of course, a new language.

“Quite difficult,” he says. It feels like an understatement.

Antonio Conte was absent, back home in Italy recovering from surgery, when Porro’s protracted transfer was finally completed. Now he is gone again and this time he is not coming back, his departure, after that outburst, confirmed last Sunday.

“Of course, it was difficult for a new player that all these things happened,” says Porro. “But you can’t do anything about them. I just had to focus on myself. I went away for the international break with Spain, then I found out that the manager had gone.”

Porro did not get much of a chance to build up a rapport with Conte – “of course, I would have liked to work more with him,” he says – but he is looking forward now – “we just have to give our best for Cristian [Stellini] and Ryan [Mason]” – and he is not one to complain.

That much was clear at his previous club Sporting, where, even amid the uncertainty around his possible move to Spurs, he remained totally professional, starting games, scoring, assisting.

His last appearance, just three days before his exit, came in the Portuguese League Cup final against Porto. Sporting lost but he departed on good terms, after two-and-a-half years of stellar service.

“I am a player who has a very strong mentality,” he says. “I was playing right up until my final day there, not knowing what was going to happen. I didn’t want to disrespect my previous club. That’s what I’m like. I’m a guy who likes things to be done in the right way.

“I understood Sporting’s stance as much as I understood Tottenham’s. They didn’t want to lose a player in January and have to buy another one. But it was a matter for the clubs. In the end, it worked out well and now I’m here, which is the main thing.”

He is happy about it, too, strolling through the corridors of Tottenham’s Hotspur Way training centre with a grin on his face and exchanging a few words in English before we begin our interview.

He is still getting to grips with the language, taking lessons organised by the club and, in the evenings, watching Netflix in English – “with subtitles,” he adds, grinning again.

But there have been challenges on the pitch as well as off it.

Porro’s debut ended in a 4-1 loss to Leicester in February, his display at the King Power Stadium prompting Tim Sherwood, the club’s former head coach, to question his credentials on Sky Sports.

It made for an inauspicious start but Porro is a positive and determined character. He did not dwell on it.

“I was calm, to tell you the truth,” he says. “Yes, of course, I was p****d off straight afterwards, because it was my debut and things hadn’t gone well. That’s normal. If you don’t have the ambition to always do your best, then you don’t have anything.

“But, honestly, I didn’t take it that badly. It was just one game and I know what football is like. One day, you can make three big mistakes; the next day, you can score two goals and get an assist.”

And what of the criticism? “It’s part of football,” shrugs Porro. “You are going to hear nice things, but also things you don’t like. It’s normal. But the truth is, I can’t have an opinion on him because I don’t know him, and it doesn’t make any difference anyway.

“Yes, it can be a motivation to prove people wrong. You can think, ‘if he says this, maybe I can try to change’. But ultimately, if it’s his opinion, I will respect it. I don’t have any problem with that.”

And besides, his debut is behind him now. Tottenham’s recent results have been poor, ultimately costing Conte his job, but on an individual level Porro’s improved displays have been a bright spot.

After providing the assist for Harry Kane’s opener in the 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest, the Spain international scored his first goal for the club in the 3-3 draw with Southampton a week later.

Porro’s attacking prowess from the wing-back position was a major part of his appeal to Spurs and it is coming to the fore now. Across the last three Premier League matchdays, only six players in the division have registered more shots and chances created combined.

“For me, confidence is everything,” he says. “I am adapting better all the time and when a player feels good, I think you see it on the pitch.

“Against Nottingham Forest, you could see that I was starting to adapt. Then I scored against Southampton, and I had various opportunities before the goal too. So, gradually, I think I am becoming more important to our attack. That’s good for me.”

He certainly enjoyed that status at Sporting, scoring 12 goals and providing 20 assists in 98 appearances in all competitions from wing-back. Where does his attacking aptitude come from?

“When I was small, I played as a winger and a No 10,” he explains. “Now, playing as a wing-back, it’s another form of attacking, down the flank, which suits me very well.”

The switch to wing-back happened at Girona, the Spanish side where he made his top-flight debut.

“Eusebio Sacristan, my manager at Girona, wanted to try me as a wing-back and he was the one who moved me,” says Porro.

“He believed in me and gambled on me, right at the start of my professional career, and I think that’s why I’m here today.”

That is not to say his path has been without obstacles. In 2019, aged 19, Porro was signed by Manchester City, only to be sent straight out on loan, first to Real Valladolid, back in Spain, then to Sporting, where his move was eventually made permanent.

He left City having not played a single minute for the club but there are no grudges. “No, I didn’t get an opportunity at Manchester City,” he says. “But also, I was just a boy when they signed me. I still had to develop myself as a player and I accepted that.”

That development accelerated at Sporting, where he won a Portuguese title and two domestic cups, and now, older and wiser at 23, the Premier League feels like the right fit for him.

“Here, the football is more physical,” he says. “It’s stronger. In the two months I have been here, I have liked it a lot.

“You have to be alert all the time,” he adds, clicking his fingers as he talks. “You have to be intense, and you have to be ready to give 100 per cent. The style is something that, gradually, I am adapting to. Now, I just want to continue in the same way.”

There is, after all, plenty still to play for this season. Tottenham exited the FA Cup and Champions League before the international break but they head into the weekend’s Premier League fixtures in fourth place as they bid to secure a top-four finish.

Porro, the whirlwind now behind him, will not settle for anything less, and, following all the upheaval of the last two months, he stresses the importance of pulling together for what lies ahead.

“I am a player who always wants more. I’m never satisfied. I think we just have to keep going, game by game, all together. If we are not together, we are not going to get anywhere. But if we are united, we can finish in the top four and that would be a big achievement.”


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