Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Comolli: Why Spurs Won't Follow Arsenal Route of Foreign Policy; the Feud over Didier Zokora's Dive Has Sparked a Fierce Defence of the Club from the Sporting Director, Says Simon Johnson

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Comolli: Why Spurs Won't Follow Arsenal Route of Foreign Policy; the Feud over Didier Zokora's Dive Has Sparked a Fierce Defence of the Club from the Sporting Director, Says Simon Johnson

Article excerpt

Byline: SIMON JOHNSON

WHEN Didier Zokora appeared to win a penalty with a blatant dive against Portsmouth, the Tottenham midfielder found himself at the centre of the season's first great "cheat" controversy.

Zokora had made a promising start to his Spurs career since joining for [pounds sterling]8.2million from St Etienne, but the incident has put a blemish against his name and threatens to make him a victim of boo-boys across the country.

Fortunately for the Ivory Coast international, however, he has Damien Comolli, Tottenham's sporting director, in his corner and the Frenchman is primed to fend off the brickbats.

Comolli knows Zokora better than anyone at Tottenham having signed him from Belgian club RC Genk in 2004 when sporting director at St Etienne and he fears the 25-year-old could be labelled with an unfair reputation.

He said: " The day after the Portsmouth game, people were talking about that incident rather than what a great player he is.

"Didier has such a love for the game and the image people are trying to portray him as is wrong. He is an honest, passionate player. The way he plays he attracts more fouls because he is so quick and skilful.

" But what happened against Portsmouth has been dealt with. We have resolved it internally. I'd like people to know he wants to play by the rules. It's time for people to forget about what happened."

The purchase of Zokora is one of Comolli's more significant contributions at White Hart Lane. The Frenchman, who begun his career learning off Arsene Wenger at Monaco and Grampus Eight, celebrated 12 months in his new role last month and feels he has already made his mark.

Comolli was facing a challenge after coming in to replace manager Martin Jol's close friend Frank Arnesen, but the duo have formed a strong working relationship which is geared toward making Tottenham challengers for honours.

The club signed Dimitar Berbatov, Pascal Chimbonda and Benoit Assou-Ekotto with his help - although the moves have led some supporters to worry that Spurs have abandoned their policy of investing predominantly in English players. …

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