Written by By Steve Symington, CNN Staff Writer
Mauricio Pochettino is the frontrunner to be named the 2018 FIFA men’s World Cup trophy’s shiny new collector’s edition. But don’t look for it in your local museum.
“It’s ridiculous,” he told CNN. “I am happy to have won it in the Champions League. It’s amazing. But to have it in a museum — it doesn’t make sense for me. I believe in football. But I am sure for me, I don’t think it’s good. I think it’s silly.”
Winning the prestigious La Liga trophy last May, Tottenham Hotspur manager Pochettino is vying for another piece of bright red — this time the FIFA Men’s World Cup winner’s trophy — thanks to The 2018 FIFA Ballon d’Or. Released just days before the start of the FIFA World Cup in Russia, it features the team of the year, as voted by journalists and media experts, and personally picked by soccer legends Ronaldo and Messi, the all-time greats.
“When (Ronaldo) was invited, I was very surprised,” said Pochettino, whose side narrowly missed out on a Champions League title last season. “He knows I know his profile very well. And we discussed. I told him that if you would have selected my team, I think it would have been a more balanced team. He was not so surprised. Because I know him very well.
“I don’t think it’s the way to promote football. I don’t agree with it. I would never be involved in it.”
Perhaps more unusually, Pochettino believes his four awards for Spurs last season — in the Premier League, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League — should qualify as the best trophy in the game.
“We won trophies. I think it’s good to celebrate the trophies that we won, like in every sport. But to have one like that, you need to be part of it.”
Pochettino is yet to win the Ballon d’Or award. However, fellow contenders can’t fault him for ambition.
“He’s very interested in everything that is going on. He gets involved and is involved in all of the projects that are going on,” Luis Enrique, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, the other European managers nominated for the award, told CNN Sport.
FIFA World Cup trophy, exclusive to CNN. Credit: Tiffany and Co.
For Messi, simply acknowledging his great rival’s reputation — and trust — as a champion is more important than overtoring his own to show there’s a debate.
“I have always said that Ronaldo was considered a little bit ahead of me, because before he won the World Cup in 2010 and we did not win the World Cup. I think I have proved the players who voted for me. And that’s the best way to get there.
“Of course, he is brilliant and is a great player. But for me, he is part of the football world and history. We have to go to the past and then analyze how much we need to work.”
And Pochettino himself? He’s waiting for the 2010 World Cup to break down.