Mauricio Pochettino changed my outlook on life, says Ryan Mason
By Oliver Young-Myles
Last Updated: 19/03/18 9:27am
Ryan Mason believes that the values instilled in him by former manager Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham have helped him to move on following his retirement from football at the age of 26.
Mason suffered a fractured skull while playing for Hull City against Chelsea in January 2017 and after spending 13-months out of the game, he announced his retirement last month following advice from medical professionals.
Despite being forced to end his career prematurely, Mason has been positive about his future post-football and speaking on the Soccer AM podcast, he claimed that Pochettino's methods changed his outlook on life.
"You love playing for him, you'd run through a brick wall for him because he's a lovely man and a lovely human being," said Mason.
"Don't get me wrong I would never, ever cross him because his morals and values are so strong that if you went away from that it would be hard for him to forget it. But at the same time if you work hard, do what he says right and enjoy your football then he is unbelievable.
"Probably the biggest thing that I can say about him is that he didn't just improve me as a player, he improved me as a human being. He just changed my view on life through his values - he's a big family man, he loves creating friendship and values loyalty.
"Also when I say he changed my way of life, that way of stressing your brain I believe helped me recover from my injury because rather than feeling sorry for myself that experience of being strong mentally with him helped me to change my outlook."
Mason joined the Spurs academy aged eight in 1999 but it wasn't until Pochettino arrived 15 years later that he was given an extended run of games in the first team - of Mason's 70 professional games for Spurs, all but four came under Pochettino during his first two seasons in charge.
Much has been made of Pochettino's record for developing young talent at each of the clubs he has managed - Espanyol, Southampton and Spurs - and Mason praised him for creating a clear pathway for youth-team players to the first team that had been lacking under his predecessors.
"You could see how he develops players from day one. I was playing for Swindon in League One six months before he came in but he didn't care about that, he said to me 'you're a Premier League player, if you get fit and train hard you'll play for me'.
"There aren't many managers around in the Premier League or even league football that would be able to see potential like that and then have the balls to develop it and be patient. If you look at the players he's brought through at Tottenham - they've got a great youth set-up with John McDermott - but to actually trust players in the Premier League is amazing.
"He knows everyone's name at the club. From the women in the canteen to the groundsmen, he knows everyone and it just helps to create a good atmosphere. When I was in the youth team, I didn't really see a path into the first team initially because there were managers who didn't really want to promote youth, they'd rather go out and buy someone.
"At one point, we had a squad of 26, 27 players and probably 20-odd were internationals and for a youth-team player it was like 'how am I going to get into that?' Whereas if you look at the first team now you could see a path into the first team for a 17 or 18-year-old."
Like Mason, Harry Kane finally emerged as a regular first-team player during Pochettino's first season in charge and he has since gone on to establish himself as one of the best strikers in the world.
The duo came through the Spurs youth academy together and Mason puts Kane's success so far down to his elite mentality, even suggesting that he wouldn't be surprised to see his former team-mate switch his attentions to a stint in the NFL after he retires from football.
"I always thought he would be a top Premier League goalscorer, I knew that from day one of seeing him but I think the time in which he's achieved that in is a bit of a surprise. He did it in a matter of 18 months and he's just carried it on and been consistent and now he's probably the best striker in the world.
"The thing with Harry is he just wants to be the best at everything. He's got that mentality where if you say to him he'll retire at 36 or 37, 'what are you going to do now?' He'd probably say I'll go and play in the Super Bowl or I'll go and be a professional golfer because once he puts his mind to something, he'll probably achieve it.
"It wouldn't surprise me if Harry went and won the Super Bowl in 15 years' time."