Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino discusses the 'love' he feels for West Ham's Pablo Zabaleta

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino waves to the crowd afterthe International Champions Cup 2017 match between Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham Hotspur at Camping World Stadium...

Tottenham Hotspur are set to take on West Ham United in a crunch London derby this weekend.

Tottenham Hotspur Manager Mauricio Pochettino during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Tottenham Hotspur and Juventus on August 5, 2017 in London, England.Tottenham Hotspur Manager Mauricio Pochettino during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Tottenham Hotspur and Juventus on August 5, 2017 in London, England.

Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino is a manager famous for building positive relationships with his players and teammates, having fired a young Spurs side from nearly rans into one of the Premier League's top teams.

And though he will be busy preparing for what is set to be another fierce London derby with West Ham United this weekend, he took a few minutes to talk about what will be a very familiar face in the Hammers line up come Saturday lunchtime.

Mauricio Pochettino of Espanyol and Ismael Urzaiz in action during the La Liga match between RCD Espanyol and Athletic de Bilbao at the Lluis Companys stadium, on November 5, 2005, in...Mauricio Pochettino of Espanyol and Ismael Urzaiz in action during the La Liga match between RCD Espanyol and Athletic de Bilbao at the Lluis Companys stadium, on November 5, 2005, in...

Pochettino's last season as a player was alongside West Ham's veteran right back Pablo Zabaleta, then a 20-year-old fullback newly arrived at Espanyol.

Talking to the club's Twitter channel, the ex-Southampton manager was happy to discuss his affection for his former teammate.

"He arrived to Espanyol when I was there, he was so young but with massive quality," Pochettino said when asked of the fullback.

"In 90 minutes he will be my enemy, but he knows very well that I love him and I think that he has the same emotion and feelings with me."

The two featured regularly in the 2005-06 season as Barcelona's second side finished down in a disappointing 15th place, with the Tottenham boss hanging up his boots at the end of the campaign. By the time Pochettino became manager at Periquitos in 2009, Zabaleta had already departed La Liga for what would be a successful stint at Manchester City.

Espanyol's Pablo Zabaleta (R) fights for the ball with Sevilla's Diego Capel during a Spanish league football match at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona on February 16, 2008. AFP PHOTOEspanyol's Pablo Zabaleta (R) fights for the ball with Sevilla's Diego Capel during a Spanish league football match at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona on February 16, 2008. AFP PHOTO

Zabaleta joined West Ham on a free transfer this summer, and after a tough start has improved in recent games - helping his new team to clean sheets in their last two league games.

Pochettino and his compatriot will both be doing their utmost to help their side take all three points on Saturday, but whatever the result, it is clear they will leave their rivalry at the door come the full time whistle.

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