‘It’s just me and the manager, there are no new guests coming in and all the others have moved out’: Ex-Spurs kid Luis Binks on life in lockdown with Thierry Henry in a Montreal hotel… and why he left despite a late plea from Jose Mourinho
- Luis Binks left Tottenham in February to join Montreal Impact in the MLS
- The teenager is now on lockdown in a hotel with his manager Thierry Henry
- The defender said it was a no brainer to leave England when the chance arose
- Spurs boss Jose Mourinho tried to persuade him to stay at the last minute
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
There are just two guests left in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Downtown Montreal amid Canada’s coronavirus lockdown – Thierry Henry and Luis Binks.
For Binks, the 18-year-old from Gillingham who quit Spurs to sign for Montreal Impact in February, it is a sudden chance to get to know his new manager.
‘I see him down in reception just sitting on his own, and we’ll have a chat,’ Binks, the England Under-18 centre-back, tells Sportsmail from his 10th-floor room.
Former Tottenham teenager Luis Binks is in lockdown with his Montreal manager Thierry Henry
‘He is one of the big reasons I came here, so I just want to pick his brains. I was asking him the other day about the best defenders he’s played against – he was telling me all about Alessandro Nesta and Lillian Thuram.
‘So it’s just me and the manager, there are no new guests coming in and all the others have moved out. He hasn’t invited me down to his room yet, but I bet he’s got the big suite!’
There is no longer any room service and the pair often meet when collecting the daily delivery of food from their MLS club.
‘It’s not ideal, but there’s not much we can do,’ says Binks, who won much acclaim while playing every minute of the new season until its suspension last month.
‘I’m running up and down the stairs instead of taking the lift – I hope the manager sees me! But even if he wasn’t here I’d be doing all that anyway.
‘I’m doing as much as I can because, before all of this started, I was in a good place. I go out running but everything is shut and the streets are empty. I suppose it’s one way to see the city!’
The 18-year-old said it was a no brainer to join the MLS side in February after 13 years at Spurs
No kickabout in the corridor with Henry?
‘I don’t think I’d want to, I’ve seen him in training, he’d still beat me!’
Binks, naturally, would prefer to be in isolation at home with his family in Kent. However, he has no regrets over what was considered a controversial move, at least in the eyes of those at Spurs who had him earmarked for the first-team, including manager Jose Mourinho.
Watch footage of the 6ft 2in defender – elegant on the ball and strong in the tackle – and you will realise why Mourinho made a personal intervention after learning of the player’s desire for senior football overseas.
Binks, however, makes a persuasive case when pressed for the reasons as to why he left the club he had joined aged six.
‘My debut here there were 30,000 fans,’ he begins. ‘Last year, for the Under 23s, you’d be away to Derby on a Thursday night in front of 50 people.
‘The crowd, the occasion, it motivates you, you want more of it. You can still learn playing Under 23s, but not as much as this.
‘When Jadon Sancho went to Dortmund and did so well, it really inspired me. So I thought, “Yeah, why not?”. It felt like a no-brainer.’
Jose Mourinho made a late plea with Binks (R) to stay at Spurs but could not change his mind
Mourinho disagreed and made a late plea to the teenager.
‘I told the academy staff I was leaving and they said, “We’ll get Mourinho here”. He said how much he liked me, that I would be going on pre-season and, if I did well, I could play a few games next year.
‘That made the decision even tougher, but it also reassured me that, if I’m good enough, I will get to the top.
‘I didn’t want to take the risk of waiting for something that might never come. You then get to 21 and you still haven’t played.
‘I play for England with Mason Greenwood at Man United and it’s brilliant to see him getting on and doing so well. But he’s a forward, it’s different for a centre-half, they don’t bring you on for the last 15 minutes, do they?
‘So I needed to push myself, I couldn’t sit around in the 23s, that just wasn’t for me.’
Binks has long since been dubbed ‘the next John Terry’ – a likeness he accepts – and there is one former Spurs team-mate who will readily admit the youngster can mix it alongside his elders.
‘My first training session at Tottenham, I was only 16, there was a 50-50 and I went in with Jan Vertonghen,’ he says.
The former Arsenal striker and Monaco manager joined the Canadian team in November
‘I went in hard – but fair, I think – and he got up and shouted at me, “You f***ing idiot”. Literally, 20 seconds later, the same 50-50 challenge came along… I went in full blooded again and he rolled his ankle.
‘He went mental. For six months he wouldn’t shake my hand. He’d just laugh and say, “You’re that kid who did me!”.’
If Binks showed no fear when faced with Vertonghen, the same could not be said when risking the wrath of Henry during his MLS debut.
‘It was really strange, I got asked to do an interview at half-time,’ he recalls. ‘I said, “No, I’ll do it after”. They said, “No, this is what we do over here”. So I did it and the manager walked past. You’re thinking, “Ah God, no”. He just said, “Hurry up!”.
‘I tried to finish it so quickly and you can see me turn and sprint towards the tunnel – my running stats were the quickest all game during half-time!’
With that, Binks bids farewell – he best not be late for his daily chance to catch Henry.
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