Spurs vs Juventus at Wembley — “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death…it is much, much more important than that”

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”

— King Henry from Henry V by Shakespeare

Spurs fan Sir Kenneth Branagh as King Henry: “We band of brothers”
Tottenham’s own Sir Harry “Hotspur”

February and early March blahs got you down? Then drop everything, put on some headphones, and listen to Tottenham Hotspur football fan and award-winning actor Sir Kenneth Branagh making his St. Crispin’s day speech and be inspired. In the play, impassioned King Henry personifies courageous manhood as he rouses his underdog army against their very motivated opponents.

On Wednesday at Wembley Stadium, another “knight” Mauricio Pochettino, manager of Tottenham, whose Hotspur name is also a homage to another Shakespearean character (Sir Harry Hotspur), leads his Spurs into battle against Juventus — to the winner of the tie, a place in the Champions League quarters, the last eight and the crème de la crème of European soccer.

Comes the Hour…
Strikers — Tottenham’s Kane vs Juve’s Higuain

In the earlier group stage, Spurs had dramatically overcome the reigning champions, Real Madrid, to finish first in the group above Los Blancos. Now, Spurs have a chance to overcome the other finalist, Juve, from last season, and show they are ready to compete with the best in the world.

Spurs are on the up and up, having finished third and then second in consecutive seasons in the premiership, the toughest league in the world. The famous London-based club, are now ranked the 11th richest in the world according to Deloitte’s Football Money League, and is moving into its awesome new stadium next season. And this home tie vs Juve, the first leg finished 2–2 with Spurs gaining two invaluable away goals, is seen as a watershed moment in the club’s modern history.

Tottenham came back from 0–2 down in first leg
Kane and Buffon to go at it again at Wembley

Former Spurs legend Glenn Hoddle suggests:

“It is hard to overestimate just what a major moment this is for my old club Tottenham this week… if they can get past Juventus, they wouldn’t necessarily fear anyone in the next round. Even Barcelona and Manchester City have their weaknesses and Tottenham are good enough to exploit them. There is a danger that they think the hard work has been done, with a 2–2 draw in Italy leaving them in a good position for Wembley. However, you can be sure Mauricio Pochettino won’t allow that kind of thinking… My own feeling is that they have taken so much confidence from beating Real Madrid 3–1 at Wembley, that they now know they can take on any team.”

Here’s what some US-based Spurs fans have to say:

Manny Wallace: “This team is capable of beating anyone. This season above all, we have shown we can beat the best. If that belief continues, with the skill instilled by Poch, it means we can be that surprise package that takes the Champions League trophy! COYMFS!”

Rolfe Jones (co-founder of LA Spurs): “The mighty Spurs shall prevail, they will not fail in the task that is before them, on this most important of nights! Like Sir Kenneth Branagh and his famous speech in Henry V on St. Crispin’s day and at the battle of Agincourt! We band of brothers…”

Gihan James Ranaweera: “With a kind draw and some luck along the way there’s no reason we can’t go far in this. COYS!”

Jon Hamblen: “I’m cautiously optimistic. We certainly have it in us! COYS!”

Miguel Gualip: “So exciting. I cannot freakin’ wait. Hopefully no first half jitters take a hold of the squad again and dig us a hole.”

Deryl Sequeira: “With a majority of the favored heavyweights still in the competition Spurs have their work cut out for them. But this is their defining moment. To stand up and be counted. To show the world that they belong here.”

Deryl Sequeira: “With a majority of the favored heavyweights still in the competition Spurs have their work cut out for them. But this is their defining moment. To stand up and be counted. To show the world that they belong here.”

Catherine Bracy: “Let’s all take some deep breaths and count to ten. Nothing like pinning the hopes of the franchise on one game to set us up for a truly Spursy performance.”

Spurs manager Pochettino and talismanic Kane — hoping to be knights of the realm
The Old Lady, last season’s Champions League losing finalist

Steffan Chirazi (co-founder of SF Spurs):

“Never have I hoped we get an early goal like I do this Wednesday. It would change everything fast. As it is, I think those two away goals are going to be absolutely vital and I can see us going through on the away goals rule… In fairness we were ready at this stage in 2011, coming back from 3–4 down to Inter for the magic at the Lane and that ‘Taxi for Maicon’ 3–1 win! Overall though I think we are light years from that side, which relied on two maybe three players to get where it did, whereas this squad is genuinely great. I expect us to do it, and I expect us to be in the semi-finals at least this season. We have more than most think we have…but Hoddle is right, Wednesday is a big, big night to prove it…”

Luna Leva (from Milan): “I really hope Spurs win otherwise I’ll lose all credibility in my local caffè where I’ve been insulting a number of Juventini and made a lot of bets which will result in a considerable outlay on my part if we don’t get through.”

A big night, indeed, for both Spurs and Juventus. And, for those who think it’s just another game, as legendary Liverpool football manager Bill Shankly suggested: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death…I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

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Award-winning journalist-author-blogger for Playboy, TO Star, Movie Entertainment, HuffPost, Hello Canada & my novel REJEX (Pulp Hero Press) is on Amazon.