Sissoko idolised Arsenal icons Vieira & Henry before becoming a star in his own right at Spurs

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A France international who is now on the books at Tottenham admits that he grew up wanting to emulating countrymen on the other side of north London

Moussa Sissoko is now a star turn at Tottenham and looking to down Arsenal in Saturday’s north London derby, but he grew up idolising Gunners legends Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry.

The Frenchman has followed in the footsteps of those iconic countrymen by becoming a senior international with Les Bleus.

He has also seen his club career lead him to the English capital, with a big-money move from Newcastle to Spurs completed in 2016.

Sissoko has overcome a difficult opening to his time in Mauricio Pochettino’s plans to become an important figure in the 2018-19 campaign.

His next outing could see him put a dent in the top-four ambitions of a club he once followed closely, with the 29-year-old looking to become a Vieira-esque presence in his own right.

Sissoko told the Daily Mail of his footballing heroes: “My first impressions of English football were the Arsenal team under Arsene Wenger.

“All the French players were there - Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira. My idol was Vieira. In the playground, I was Vieira.

“That is why I wanted to play in England. I was the same position, we have a similar style. He was a complete idol. It's why, when I had the chance to come to Newcastle, I didn't think twice. Now I am at a massive club in Tottenham.”

Dele Alli Harry Winks Moussa Sissoko Tottenham Leicester Premier League 08122018

Sissoko initially struggled to make his mark with Spurs, with a dip in form seeing questions asked of his ability to justify the £30 million ($40m) invested in him.

He has, however, fended off regular rounds of transfer talk to become an unsung hero for Tottenham in the middle of the park.

“I knew I could be a success here,” added Sissoko.

“I was unlucky in that I signed on the final day of the transfer window, so I did not have pre-season with the squad. I did not know the players very well. Everything was new. The level was bigger than my previous teams.

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“It is normal to take time but they paid a lot of money for you, so they want results straight away. I wanted to play more. I used to play every game at Newcastle and Toulouse. I had to be really strong in the mind. Sometimes you have bad moments.

“I was left out of the World Cup last summer. It was hard. I was in touch with the players, supporting them. I watched it in London with my missus. I so wanted to be there.

“I just kept saying in my mind, ‘Keep working and I know it will be a success’. I listened to the manager Mauricio Pochettino. I am so happy I did not give up. It is never too late.”