Pochettino's commitment to young players helps Tottenham and England
Who has done more than anyone else for the England football team in the last five years? Wayne Rooney? Roy Hodgson? Gareth Southgate? Harry Kane? Greg Dyke? Or Mauricio Pochettino?
There is a strong case for the Tottenham Hotspur manager who, since moving to Southampton in 2013, has developed a fierce commitment to the England team.
Of the last 26 players to debut for England, half have been coached by Pochettino at either Saints or Spurs and the majority -- like Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne, Kane and Dele Alli -- won their first cap while he was their manager. In the next few days, a 14th Pochettino player, Kieran Trippier, is expected to make his England bow, either in Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Scotland or the friendly in France three days later
"My identity as a manager is to give them the opportunity [to play for England]," Pochettino said last year.
It is not surprising, then, that Pochettino is more invested in England than most Premier League managers past and present. When the national team train at Hotspur Way, Tottenham's Enfield base, Pochettino wanders down from his office to watch the sessions and he never misses one of their matches on TV.
The 45-year-old took great pride in playing for his own country and pushes all his players to achieve international honours, often going out of his way to reach compromises with the England manager of the day. Pochettino's players never miss unimportant internationals with mysterious muscle strains and he trusts England's coaching and medical staff to return them in tip-top condition at any stage of the season.
"We always need advice and information but we'll never say: 'You need to do this or that.' They have interests, and sometimes it's against our interests but it's important for us to trust them and them to trust us," he has said.
Sources at Spurs report that Pochettino is hugely proud of his record of producing England players and it has become a key selling point for him and the club. It was one of the first promises he made to left-back Danny Rose and one of the first discussions he had with Trippier when he signed from Burnley a year later. Pochettino may not be able to offer young players the same pay packet as Manchester United or Chelsea but he can offer them a good chance of an England cap or two.
Like Sir Alex Ferguson, one of his managerial idols, he has recognised the value of building a team around young, British players -- both out of instinct and necessity.
"What [Ferguson] created with young talent from the academy from England. He created the core of a team that won everything. That is a good example for me," Pochettino said in April.
He believes it is fundamentally harder to win honours over a sustained period without homegrown players. "We're an English club and for me it's important to provide a good balance between the players but to keep the culture. You can't be at an English club using Argentinian or French culture," he said last year.
In Pochettino's first season at Tottenham, academy graduates Rose, Ryan Mason, Nabil Bentaleb, Andros Townsend and Harry Kane were regulars and, although only the latter two remain at the club, Pochettino replaced the others with Alli and Eric Dier, who were also immediately trusted in the Premier League and have never looked back.
Once in the team, they improve under their manager's coaching. Kane, written off after uninspired loans in the Football League, is the most-often cited example but Trippier was rejected by Manchester City and joined Spurs from the Championship. Meanwhile, Rose had been written off pre-Pochettino and even Alli, as prodigious as he is, was missed by the bigger, richer clubs.
Pochettino's production line is unlikely to end soon. Harry Winks was being considered for an England call-up before an ankle injury ended his season in April and his manager has said the 21-year-old could develop into "one of the best midfielders in England".
Meanwhile, two stars of England's run to the Under-20 World Cup final -- Kyle Walker-Peters and Joshua Onomah -- are at Tottenham and Pochettino has promised both more playing time next season. And Spurs can use his record as a selling point to sign more young, British players this summer, such as Fulham's 17-year-old left-back Ryan Sessegnon.
Pochettino has even opened the door to managing England one day -- "Why not, in the future? It's not my moment," he said last year -- but the best thing for England would be for him to stay right where he is.
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.