Tanganga: German lessons, racing Van de Ven, Spurs & Millwall

13 February 2024 0 By Total Football News

The primary topic of conversation to have with a Tottenham centre-back, even while sat at Millwall’s training ground, is a subject on a lot of people’s minds right now.

Just how fast is Micky van de Ven?

“I didn’t know he was that quick!” Japhet Tanganga tells Sky Sports with a big smile on his face.

“When I was there I was going through my rehab so didn’t see him training, but I spoke to some of the boys and asked how fast he is.

“But you can see his quality as well. They spoke about him in Germany as well, because obviously he came to Spurs from there, about how good he was.”

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Japhet Tanganga admits he didn’t know that his Tottenham team-mate Micky van de Ven was as quick as he was following his arrival in the summer.

Tanganga, 24, is on his second loan of the season away from Spurs at Millwall in the Championship – the first time in his career he has dropped into the second tier.

But his season began with a fairly torrid stint in the Bundesliga at Augsburg. He arrived injured in the summer, and failed to make a single appearance for the club on loan.

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“There were a combination of things that went wrong, to be honest,” he frankly admits. “Firstly of course I look at myself, and wonder whether I could have done something better or trained harder.

“I went there injured and I’m grateful to them because they took me on board and looked after me.

“Then as I was getting back fit the manager who brought me in got sacked and a new one came in with his own methods and ideology, and he didn’t see me fitting that.

“It was hard to take, but it’s football and that’s what happens.”

Tanganga reamins upbeat about his time there. Even without playing, he feels he made the most he could out of his spell in Germany.

“I learned a bit of the language,” he says. “And I embraced the culture out there. The sporting director arranged lessons for us. I already speak French and my native language from the Congo, Lingala. I can say hello, how to greet someone, all those things.”

Now he finds himself in the Championship. It hasn’t been the easiest of starts in his four appearances for Millwall so far. They are yet to win, and he gave away a crucial penalty in their 2-1 defeat at Coventry on Sunday.

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Coventry City and Millwall

But head coach Joe Edwards maintains his faith in him, having worked with Tanganga in the past at England youth level, and the defender is very keen to play his way into form.

“I’ve had my fair share of injuries, or times where I’ve not been playing in my career,” he says.

“But the reason you become a footballer is to play. You love the game, and that’s so important to me. For my fitness and for myself.”

Tanganga was handed his Tottenham debut by Mauricio Pochettino in 2019, and went on to make 50 appearances for the club under a succession of managers.

He never really got the consistency of appearances he craved as a young player, but relished working under some remarkable managers.

“Being at the age I was working under the top managers I did was surely every young player’s dream,” he says.

“There was Conte, Pochettino, Mourinho and Nuno. All managers who have done well in the game, so to be able to learn off of them from such a young age was the best thing I could have asked for.

There were also world-class team-mates in Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld to learn from.

“I’m always watching top centre-backs to see what I can learn from them,” he says. “They were big helps to me coming through, they spoke to me a lot and really helped my game.

“It was also great to see how professional they were, and to take those lessons and use them in my career.”

Lessons are fine enough, whether they are from managers, centre-backs or in German. But now Tanganga just wants to play.

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