Mauricio Pochettino in debt to Unai Emery forever due to amazing gesture the Arsenal boss made to his Spurs rival

MAURICIO POCHETTINO and Unai Emery will be fierce rivals tomorrow, but in reality there are "very good friends" who have huge amounts of respect for one another.

Before either of the men moved to North London, they had come up against each other in La Liga and when Emery left the role at Valencia vacant, he suggested the club look at Pochettino as his successor.

Mauricio Pochettino in debt to Unai Emery forever due to amazing gesture the Arsenal boss made to his Spurs rivalGetty – Contributor5 The pair have faced each other several times before, most recently when Spurs played PSG in a friendly

Emery left Valencia in 2012 and as a parting gift instructed the club to try and bring Espanyol's boss Pochettino on board.

Valencia did approach Poch, but the Spurs boss remained loyal to Espanyol,  he said: “The president of Valencia [Manuel Llorente] called me and said ‘I want you in Valencia.’

"We were talking and he told me ‘Unai Emery advised me and told me to pick you, you are the best manager.’ But I chose to stay at Espanyol. I am loyal.

"I called Unai, who was in Spartak Moscow, and thanked him for recommending me

Mauricio Pochettino in debt to Unai Emery forever due to amazing gesture the Arsenal boss made to his Spurs rivalAP:Associated Press5 When Emery left Valencia, he suggested the club employ Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino in debt to Unai Emery forever due to amazing gesture the Arsenal boss made to his Spurs rivalGetty – Contributor5 Pochettino stayed loyal to Espanyol, instead of moving to Valencia, but he feels indebted to Emery for suggesting him for the role

“You need to be grateful when a colleague – and, afterwards, someone who became a very good friend – does that."

The pair are both deeply passionate about football and have shared information and annecdotes over the years as their friendship has grown.

Poch said: “We’re in contact – and, of course, it is about football. In the end, 99.9 per cent of our lives are football. Sometimes he asks me about some players, some teams and us the same.

"There is contact between the coaching staffs, too, because we have a very good relationship between our coaching staffs.”

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Mauricio Pochettino in debt to Unai Emery forever due to amazing gesture the Arsenal boss made to his Spurs rivalGetty Images – Getty5 Emery's reign has got off to an impressive start, but they will be judged on their performance tomorrow as to whether they have improved in the post-Wenger era

Before replacing Arsene Wenger at the Emirates, Emery even questioned Poch about life in England and the Premier League.

Poch told him that if he had the opportunity to come then he would definitely be the right fit.

Even the Spurs manager probably wouldn't have anticipated how well Emery's reign would have begun after the Wenger era.

But, he hopes to dish Arsenal their third loss of the season when they meet tomorrow in the North London derby.

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