Matt Doherty’s Premier League journey did not begin until he’d spent a year slogging away as a carpet cleaner for his dad, a grounding Tottenham’s new recruit believes has given him the work ethic which caught Jose Mourinho’s eye.
Doherty, a £15m summer signing from Wolves, is living the dream earning big bucks playing in one of the world’s best leagues, European club competitions and representing Ireland.
And it’s not a lifestyle he is going to take for granted given his very unglamorous upbringing while playing part-time for Bohemians back in Ireland.
‘I was working with my dad for the best part of two years and it just gave me a sense of what real work was like,’ said Doherty speaking ahead of Tottenham’s showdown with Newcastle on Sunday.
‘It also showed me the kind of work that I didn’t want to do because of how hard it was, how tough it was going around in the van. Carpet and upholstery cleaning was not easy work.
‘Those two years between 16 and 18, they probably matured me a lot and probably meant that when I did get over [to England] there was never going to be any homesickness or anything like that that I might have had at 16.
‘It was just an opportunity that I knew I had to take with both hands and there was no way I was going to let anything get in the way or stop me from giving it 100 per cent.’
Doherty’s time cleaning carpets made him determined to seize his opportunity at Wolves
Little wonder then that during a decade at Molineux Doherty was renowned for his work ethic and no surprise that he’s the type of player who also found himself on Mourinho’s radar.
‘Not many people get to work with a manager like Jose and it was something I was very excited to do,’ said the 28-year-old.
‘As everyone knows, I like to get up and down on the right-hand side and obviously it was a fit for his eye.’
The Irishman feels his work ethic is one characteristic that caught the eye of Jose Mourinho
He has traded one Portuguese boss for another but says Mourinho and Nuno share qualities
Doherty has traded in one Portuguese boss – Nuno Espirito Santo – for another and he can see similarities between the two men.
‘They’re similar in some ways,’ he said. ‘Obviously, Nuno was second-choice keeper at Porto when Jose was the manager so he obviously learned a lot from working with him. They do have some things in common but shape-wise it’s different, there are things they do differently on a personal level also.’
And Doherty also says the occasionally grumpy Mourinho the public see bears no relation to the Mourinho he works with on a day-to-day basis.
Doherty has settled in quickly at Tottenham as he looks to take the next step in his career
‘He’s even better because he has that relationship with players on a personal level; he has a great sense of humour, he can joke around with players, he cares a lot for his players. For sure he has been better than I expected.’
Doherty has settled in quickly at Tottenham Stadium where, given the Irishman’s background, the club’s cleaners had better be on their guard.
He joked: ‘I’m looking at the carpets thinking, “There’s a stain there, a stain there, I could get that out”.’