Emerson Royal: Tottenham defender talks life under new boss Antonio Conte and banned foods

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As a young child growing up in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, an all-action Emerson Royal would often give his brothers cause for concern.

“I was permanently in the wars,” a laughing Royal tells Sky Sports via an interpreter. “I was the little kid who fell over and hit his head, nearly fractured the skull or knocked out teeth.

“I remember kicking a ball and it ended up at the neighbour’s house. As I was climbing to get the ball back I electrocuted myself.

“I fell down and for a couple of minutes was knocked out. It felt like I nearly died.”

The fearless nature of the 22-year-old Brazil defender has been evident in his high energy performances after joining Tottenham from Barcelona on Deadline Day in August.

Antonio Conte, however, is striving for improvements across the entire team as he sets about trying to change the mental and physical fortunes of the players.

“Conte arrived with a really competitive mentality,” Royal recalls. “That’s not a criticism of the previous manager. He’s teaching us all to give everything.

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“From day one he was very clear with us. In his opinion, Tottenham Hotspur can win trophies and can beat anyone.

Image: Conte enjoyed his first Premier League win as Spurs boss at the weekend – defeating Leeds 2-1

“There is nothing that can stop us from doing that and that is a mentality we have to get into our head.”

Royal has been a key feature at right wing back since the former Juventus, Chelsea and Inter boss settled on his 3-4-3 system.

Although he’s still waiting on a first Premier League goal and assist, he’s been getting himself into good positions during his nine league games. The next step is to improve his big chances created (0) and crossing accuracy (12 per cent) numbers.

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“Everyone in the team has an important role in the system we are playing. I have to be aggressive when I’m attacking,” he says.

“Going forward I always try to look for Harry Kane but when there is a goalscorer like him he can be marked by one or two defenders. It’s not easy but I’m always looking for him.”

Royal, who did the interview in his native tongue as he learns English, smiles as he acknowledges a question about understanding the word ‘sofra’ in the early days of Conte.

Image: Royal has been a regular feature in Conte's 3-4-3 – featuring at right wing-back

“We are learning what it means to suffer! We know that Conte is super competitive and if we suffer that is the path to success,” he says.

“Lucas is mainly helping me with my English but Lo Celso and Reguilon are too. I’m listening to a lot of English music to learn the language. I don’t know the names of the bands but there are four or five songs I enjoy.”

His outgoing personality still manages to shine through as the conversation turns to foods that are suddenly off limits in the kitchen at the impressive on-site Lodge hotel.

“I do like ketchup!” Royal says of one of the items banned by Conte. “I’m used to not eating that sort of food so it’s not too much of a problem.”

Anything else?

“Butter! The butter is gone,” he says still laughing. “It’s true he has stressed the importance of our body fat and taking away some food.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before and at first it was a surprise and a little difficult but it’s so important for our performances. These details can make all the difference.”

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Royal has spent time getting to know “one of the best cities in the world”, getting the Tube into central London to “see the sights”.

His early memories of football in Brazil were playing with his father and brothers along with watching LaLiga and Premier League games. Those experiences ignited his love for the sport.

That journey takes him to Burnley this weekend, following the Europa Conference League tie at NS Mura, as they attempt to build on their comeback victory over Leeds United.

Shifting the pounds for the points has given Tottenham players the jolt they required.

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Sourse: skysports.com

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